Photographer Captures Rare Starlink Satellites Sailing Through the Aurora

Starlink satellites are normally invisible to the eye but photographer and aurora tour guide Ronn Murray captured 49 of them as they sailed through the beautiful northern lights in Alaska.

Ironically, Murray has been longing for the high-speed Starlink internet and the satellites were recently launched on August 31 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. They reached Alaska on September 1 which is when Murray spotted them. The above video was taken two hours after they were first spotted at 01:00 on September 2.

“We saw them both times,” Marketa Murray, Ronn’s wife and business partner, tells Space Weather. “The video is of the second flyby.”

Unusually Bright

The reason for the Starlink satellites shining so bright is because they had only just been launched and are still in low orbit, roughly 320 kilometers high.

At that altitude, the satellite internet constellation can easily outshine stars in the night sky. Eventually, the Elon Musk-owned Starlink system will move to 600 kilometers high and become invisible.

According to Space Weather, SpaceX is launching Starlinks frequently with a batch of 51 leaving Cape Canaveral on September 5. More recently, the Starlink 4-2 rideshare mission also went from Kennedy Space Center last Saturday that included 34 satellites as well as the BlueWalker 3 prototype satellite for AST SpaceMobile’s cellular broadband constellation.

The weekend’s liftoff marked SpaceX’s 60th Starlink launch and its 40th orbital mission so far in 2022. CEO Elon Musk has made no secret that he aims for his satellite communication system to provide global coverage by 2024.

Aurora Chasers

Ronn and Marketa Murray, who captured the stunning Starlink aurora video, run a photography workshop where they hunt down the hypnotic northern lights in Alaska.

The couple takes photo-explorers to “remote locations, away from the crowds and light pollution and helps you come back with your very own incredible photos.”

The pair use “multiple data sources” to determine the best location for aurora watching and even offer punters the chance to hire photography gear. Hot cocoa is also provided for freezing cold Alaskan nights.

More of Ronn and Marketa’s work can be fond on their website and Instagram.


Image credits: Feature image by Ronn Murray.

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