But what is this strange luminous phenomenon observed in the sky of Lorient? This weekend, several residents were able to observe a trail of sparkling dots above their heads, following each other at regular intervals. So did Marie-Laure Le Hen, a woman from Lorient who, surprised by this celestial phenomenon, shared her photos and videos on the Facebook page “T’es de Lorient si…”.
Photo taken by Marie-Laure Le Heen this Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Lorient at around 11:15 pm (Marie-Laure Le Heen)
No, this is not evidence of extraterrestrial life, but of well-identified objects. “These are not UFOs, they are purely human beings, and we will see more and more of them,” warns Bruno Maugin, head of the Rennes Planetarium. According to him, these are likely Starlink satellites deployed by the American firm SpaceX, led by Elon Musk.
On May 14, 2022 at 20:40 GMT, SpaceX launched its 46th batch of 53 internet satellites. The Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida, USA. “Europe is under the launch corridor. Therefore, we can observe the passage of these satellites. They were asked to paint matte black, but we see their solar panels. Basically, we see them when there was a launch within 24 or 48 hours, ”says Bruno Moguin.
This is not a UFO, is it purely human? And we will see him more and more
These same satellites were already observed in Brittany in February 2021, but at this time of the year they are more visible. “In summer, the sun is hotter. At the height where these satellites are located, they are illuminated by the sun. It’s dark here, but it’s day at the North Pole,” explains the head of the planetarium. Sometimes you see a more round dot that looks like a big blur. This corresponds to the fall of the second stage of the Falcon rocket. We then observe the outgassing of the reservoir as this part leaves its orbit to descend back into the Earth’s atmosphere.”
“Unprecedented pollution of the space environment”
Starlink satellites have been deployed since 2019 in low Earth orbit, a few hundred kilometers from Earth. With this constellation, Tesla’s creator’s goal is to guarantee high-speed internet coverage in all geographic regions of the world.
Like many astronomers, Bruno Maugin is concerned about this. “This is an unprecedented pollution of the space environment, and it was done without the advice of the scientific community. We have launched 21,000 satellites in 50 years. 3000 are currently orbiting the Earth. For 10 years, Elon Musk planned to launch 42,000. But Amazon planned to do the same, ”he laments. If their appearance in the sky still evokes emotion, soon they should no longer surprise us. The launch on May 14, 2022 brings the total number of Starlink satellites to 2,600.