Unexpected, if not unidentified, flying objects surprised some North Queenslanders who were observing the skies this week, with images of a long, thin object floating in the night sky, trending on social media.
- There have been a number of UFO sightings in North Queensland in recent days.
- Space expert says there’s a simple explanation behind what people are seeing
- He says as space usage increases, people will see more UFOs
But there is a simple explanation, says one expert, that is more about a wealthy Earthman than visiting aliens.
Still, said John Blandford of Mackay’s Northern Beaches, what he saw in the sky stopped him in his tracks.
“I see this long thing… and it seemed to have lights all the way through,” he said.
“It certainly wasn’t an airplane. It wasn’t a satellite.
Jonti Horner, professor of astrophysics at the University of South Queensland, knows what it is not: a UFO flown by intergalactic beings.
“UFO doesn’t mean aliens,” he said.
“It just means unidentified flying objects.
“It’s something weird in the sky that people are seeing for which they have no immediate explanation.”
Simple explanation for observation
Professor Horner said a long, thin object was in all likelihood Starlink satellites orbiting in a tight formation, a chain of dots so close they can look like a single object crossing the sky.
Starlink is operated by tech billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, which last week expanded its artificial constellation with the launch of 53 satellites.
“They are basically trying to provide very expensive satellite Internet access to people all over the world,” Professor Horner said.
“They launch them in big batches and so what you get for the few days after launch are a lot of satellites very close to each other, all equal and moving in line.
“This is what we had at the end of last week.”
‘Wild west’ in space
According to Professor Horner, as the use of space increases, the number of UFOs we will see will also increase.
“Space is a lot like the Wild West by the minute,” Professor Horner said.
“The legislation just hasn’t kept up with the reality of how things are going.
Since then, Professor Horner said, our presence in space has gone “crazy”.
“SpaceX plans to launch up to 42,000 satellites and they don’t really need to ask for permission,” he said.
“They don’t have to do anything to tidy up and they don’t even have to tell people when they’re going to get started.”
A little different from here on Earth.
“Quite often, especially with launches from countries [of] infamous secret spy satellites and things like that, they usually don’t advertise the fact that they’re going to do it, ”he said.
In addition to the increase in the number of satellites, old satellites that were past their prime have been retired.
“There is enough trash up there that hinders the observations we make with telescopes with professional observatories,” Professor Horner said.