SpaceX Starlink Chain and Aurora Borealis Caught Together in Stunning Video

There's more traffic than ever in the night sky.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
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Eric Mack
2 min read

A Starlink chain and Aurora Borealis seen in the sky and reflected in a body of water near Fairbanks, Alaska. 

The Aurora Chasers / Screenshot by Eric Mack / CNET

Spottings of UFOs -- UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena in the new military parlance) -- have risen in recent years due largely to the frequent launches of SpaceX Starlink broadband satellites. At the same time, sightings of the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are on the rise as the sun approaches the peak of its solar cycle

These overlapping trends are producing striking visuals in the night sky.

Marketa Murray and Ronn Murray captured the above footage of a chain of Starlink satellites cruising through the dancing Aurora Borealis outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, just after midnight on Sept. 2.  The couple offer tours to see the Northern Lights, and this particular night came with a bonus.

Starlink satellites are most visible from the ground in the days after they launch, as they make their way up to their operational altitude. This chain almost certainly came from a batch of the flying routers that launched from California two days earlier. 

SpaceX has been picking up the pace of its Starlink launches to build out the constellation that will eventually consist of at least 4,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit. The company has plans to grow the fleet to as many as 50,000 of the solar-powered metal space birds. There have already been over two dozen Starlink missions in 2022, with a launch scheduled for roughly every 1.5 weeks. 

That means there's still plenty of opportunities to catch this new type of UFO, which is really more an IFO, or identified flying object. 

Watch this: Starlink space-based internet, explained

At the same time, our sun has been in a rather hyperactive mode recently with lots of sunspot activity. Sunspot growth occurs in a roughly 11-year cycle, moving through a sort of solar winter, or minimum, when there are few sunspots on its surface and then building to a corresponding solar maximum with lots of the volatile regions hurling solar flares our way

We're currently in the part of the cycle where the sun is ramping up to solar maximum. This means more and stronger flares and the coronal mass ejections that go with them. The more powerful blasts can produce bright aurora that venture further from their normal polar homes toward the equator, making them more visible to more people. 

It all adds up to some of the most intriguing skywatching in generations, if not ever.  To track what's happening up there, keep tabs on the aurora forecasts from sources like NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center and sites like Heavens Above that can help you figure out when Starlink might be visible from your location. 

As always, please share any stunning images with me on Twitter: @EricCMack