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What was that strange light in the sky last night? It's a satellite

Posted at 1:28 PM, Apr 22, 2022

CLEVELAND — If you were outside last night, chances are you saw an unfamiliar light moving through the sky. Questions came in from News 5 viewers asking what the strange light was that could be seen over places like West Park and Rocky River late Thursday.

Video captured by viewer Tim Clemens shows the passage of the Starlink Satellite:

A Starlink satellite seen above Cleveland

Chris Mihos, an astronomy professor at Case Western Reserve University, looked at the video the viewer and confirmed it was a Starlink Satellite, a satellite internet constellation launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX that theoretically provides internet access coverage to most of Earth.

“That video looks exactly like a Starlink passage. There are thousands of those things up and every time a trail of them goes overhead, it looks exactly like that. Just little dots in the sky that are sort of drifting overhead in a line,” said Mihos.

The Starlink Satellite passage happened between 9:15 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday, and the sightings like last night, Mihos warns, will a be a common sight. Anofficial tracker can help residents track the satellites.

“This will be a more common sight going forward,” Mihos said. “The satellites have really only been launched and visible for the last few years, so people may not be used to seeing them in the sky. But as more and more are launched, it'll happen more often.”

Chris Mihos talks about satellites

What used to be a sky showing off its beautiful complexity of stars and planets, the introduction of satellites like Starlink is not such a welcome sight for astronomers.

“Honestly, they're kind of a form of light pollution that as we are trying to see the stars, these very bright trails are passing through our telescope's view, and that is actually causing a little bit of a problem for astronomy.”

But if looking at the sky for planets and stars is your thing, Mihos suggests getting up early and maybe even taking advantage of early morning dog walks. For the next couple of weeks, the public can see Venus, Saturn and Mars before sunrise.

Mihos suggests viewers go out early and look off to the east where the sun is starting to rise, and there will be a very bright dot of light low on the horizon.

“That's Venus blazing away. It's super bright right now, and it'll be like that for a few more weeks, so, if you're getting up early, that's the thing to look for," Mihos said.

As an added bonus, Mihos said if you look a little bit to the right of Venus, there will be two fainter dots — those are Saturn and Mars.

"And then one more further on the horizon in May, on the night of the 15th, there is going to be a total lunar eclipse that we will be able to see if it's clear. We'll be able to see it here from Cleveland and that will be a lot of fun," said Mihos.

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