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Bay Area residents report strange lights in the sky over weekend

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(Bill Ingalls / NASA via Getty Images)

(SAN FRANCISCO) A number of Bay Area residents reported seeing a trail of odd lights across the sky throughout the Bay Area.

The report comes roughly a week after an explosive 60 Minutes interview in which a number of government officials reported regularly seeing UFOs in restricted airspace over the Golden State. Despite this, experts indicated that the lights over the Bay this weekend were not UFOs and rather stem from a chain of low-flying SpaceX Starlink satellites, according to Patch.

The 60 Minutes interview noted that one incident occurred outside an airforce base in Southern California.

The Elon Musk run SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company, has been launching more satellites recently as part of an initiative to people living in rural areas. On May 15 the company sent more than 600 of its 12,000 planned satellites from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

One astronomer at Lick Observatory in San Jose told the Chronicle that the lights this weekend stem from a May 9 launch "catching and reflecting sunlight either in the couple hours after sunset or before sunrise." He added that such sightings are becoming more common as SpaceX launches more of its satellites into space.

“These should have been easily visible from the San Francisco Bay Area last night from about 9:38 to 9:49, passing almost directly overhead,” Geoff Mathews, a professor of astronomy at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, told the Chronicle. “They would have been just a little bit fainter than Polaris, the pole star.”

Mathews agreed that this weekend's sightings were likely from the L27 launch in the early hours of May 9. He added that the satellites appeared in a line because of the nature of the launch.

“When the satellites are released from the rocket that carried them to orbit, they will all be moving in roughly the same direction, and thus appear to be moving in a line,” Mathews said. “Over time, thanks to slight differences in their motions, they will spread out and join in with the cloud of satellites orbiting the Earth.”

Mathews and other astronomers often rely on Heavens Above, a website that helps track satellite movement, to help document the movements of these recently launched satellites.

“A chain of 10 should be visible again tonight from about 9:06 to 9:13, passing from the SW to the NE and passing pretty high overhead," said Mathews.

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