WALWORTH — A long string of moving lights resembling stars in luminosity has been sighted in recent weeks creeping across the sky before disappearing from view altogether.
These lights are not the edge of a massive alien mothership but a string of nearly 60 satellites launched into space by the company SpaceX, which is operated by entrepreneur Elon Musk.
To date the California-based company has launched about 360 satellites under its Starlink project. The long-term goal of the project is to launch thousands of satellites into orbit which will deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations it is not easily obtainable or available at all.
Multiple individuals throughout Walworth County have turned to social media sites for help in identifying the strange occurrence.
Some Village of Sharon residents reported seeing the Starlink satellites Dec. 4 on the Sharon Resident Forum Facebook page. One post received more than two dozen comments, some speculating about UFOs, some reporting sighting the satellites and some providing information about the Starlink project.
One comment came from Sharon resident Jason Hibl, who said he spotted the satellites Dec. 6 while driving across town.
“I just happened to look up and see them,” he said. “They kind of caught my eye because they were in a straight line.”
Hibl said he didn’t suspect that UFOs were the culprit but wasn’t sure exactly what they were either. He said initially he thought the string of lights may have been a convoy of airplanes.
After spotting the satellites, Hibl said he called his wife to go outside and look at them along with his son. He said after returning home he and his family planned to drive out into the country to try and get a better look, but that by the time they were ready to go they were already out of view.
He said as soon as someone mentioned the Starlink project on the Sharon Resident Forum Facebook page he recalled hearing about the project and realized that was what he had witnessed.
In response to the online discussions, Sharon Police Chief Brad Buchholz said he posted a link to a news article regarding the project to address any questions residents may have about the sightings.
Buchholz said the police station has not received any calls about the lights but wanted to provide an explanation in case there were inquiries from residents.
“I don’t think we got any calls for service on that but I did see that some people had made some comments and posts,” he said.
The Starlight satellites can be tracked online through a tracking website, which provides information on when they might be visible while passing overhead.
The satellites are flat-panel objects weighing about 570 pounds with an expandable solar panel extruding from one side, according to the project website. The Starlink satellites orbit at a lower elevation than other satellites, allowing them to avoid objects or debris in space. They utilize a krypton powered ion thruster to change its orbit and maneuver in space.
Sharon resident Clair Hayden said she has not seen the satellites lately but recalls tracking them online and going out to see them last year after hearing about the project.
She said she is pleased the project will provide internet to those unable to currently access it but is concerned about the growing number of object in Earth’s orbit. Hayden said while she knows they fly at a lower altitude than other satellites in order to avoid collision, she said she wonders how many objects can be launched into orbit until collisions are inevitable.
“It’s one thing to have great advances in society and technology but you always have to think of the end of it too,” she said.
In photos: Secret tree tradition continues after death
Terri McAuliffe with the special tree on Seventh Avenue south of Sheridan Road that she and her husband Steve secretly decorated together for …
Steve and Terri McAuliffe with the special tree on Seventh Avenue south of Sheridan Road they secretly decorated together for nearly 10 years.…
Terri McAuliffe secretly decorated a tree on Kennedy Drive along the lakefront with her family for more than a decade.
A single yellow ornament was placed near the top of the tree because it was the same color as Steve Mcauliffe's wife's hair.
Steve McAuliffe and his daughter, Katie, decorate a tree on Kennedy Drive along the lakefront on Thanksgiving.
Katie McAuliffe, left, and her father, Steve, decorate a tree on Kennedy Drive along the lakefront on Thanksgiving in memory of Terri McAuliffe.