Why are Starlink "Racetrack" Flares [Mostly] Reported from Planes?

It's hard to get an insider view, it could be a lot of pilots see them and think "probably satellites" and are not bothered by them and those "reporting them and saying defo not satellites" are UFO fans who want to believe.

It is odd though you'd think if this were being seen by lots of pilots and there was no actual guidance on it, it would a bigger issue and thus solved because it would have "gotten serious"

I wonder if we could do some sort of rough calculation as to what percentage of flights have a chance of seeing them.
What I had thought of doing was a world map that showed areas around the globe in which the flares would likely be seen. All it really needs is to highlight where the sun's elevation is between (say) -40 to -50 degrees below the horizon, for any date & time, up to latitudes of about 53 degrees.. There are some graphs out there for specific locations but this would be a graphical map to show the extent of their visibility., I had hoped to create this so that everyone, not just pilots, could see the flares. Maybe I'll get round to doing it during the next pandemic.
 
All it really needs is to highlight where the sun's elevation is between (say) -40 to -50 degrees below the horizon
Take the subsolar point, mark two rings on the globe 130⁰ and 140⁰ from it, the area between is the one you want to highlight.

I'd also add rays every 10 degrees or so to indicate/predict the direction that the racetrack will be visible.
 
And *yet again* we see an insistent "it's not X" without *any* explanation of what is not X-like that could lead to the rejection of X as a possibility.
I'll give them a minor pass on this one -- I imagine any active pilot has by now seen Starlink TRAINS following a launch, or at least images/vids, and if that's what they think a "Starlink" looks like, then they are right (given what they know) in satying that the flares they are seeing look nothing like what they've seen before and called "Starlink." Until somebody explains to them what is going on -- how the trains spread out and become satellites that can flare under a specific set of conditions, and how those conditions are the same ones prevailing when they are seeing these "UFOs" -- which is where the work of folks who have contributed to this thread comes in!

(I wonder if it would be worth reaching out to SpaceX and see if they'll claim the phenomenon. They command a more prominent pulpit than we do...)
 
I'll give them a minor pass on this one -- I imagine any active pilot has by now seen Starlink TRAINS following a launch, or at least images/vids, and if that's what they think a "Starlink" looks like, then they are right (given what they know) in satying that the flares they are seeing look nothing like what they've seen before and called "Starlink." Until somebody explains to them what is going on -- how the trains spread out and become satellites that can flare under a specific set of conditions, and how those conditions are the same ones prevailing when they are seeing these "UFOs" -- which is where the work of folks who have contributed to this thread comes in!

(I wonder if it would be worth reaching out to SpaceX and see if they'll claim the phenomenon. They command a more prominent pulpit than we do...)

If they don't understand the difference between deployment and final orbit, they have no right to claim to know how satellites move across the sky. Which they did.

No pass given. Classic Dunning Kruger.

And yes, before you ask, code that I've written is orbitting the planet right now.
 
If they don't understand the difference between deployment and final orbit, they have no right to claim to know how satellites move across the sky. Which they did.

No pass given. Classic Dunning Kruger.
They're not "rocket scientists" or satellite mission specialists, they are pilots. Their claim to know what satellites look like moving across the sky is based on observing a lot of satellites moving across the sky for years before the Starlink satellites crowded the skies with something new that is going to produce a LOT more flares, in close proximity, under the right conditions. They've seen a thing called "Starlink." It does not look like what they are seeing now.

Until somebody tells them, "Wait, that's not the only thing that Starlink satellites can look like!" then they won't know that. Which is where the work done by folks working on this thread (and similar work presumably being done elsewhere) come sin, and is important.

Now if they get it explained to them and STILL insist it's not what it in fact actually is, then yeah, no pass given.


And yes, before you ask, code that I've written is orbitting the planet right now.
Would not have occurred to me to ask, but that's pretty freakin' amazing. Absolutely sincere salute to you!

(I have a friend in the kite world who developed the landing legs of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, using carbon rods ... or more likely tubes, I guess ... such as are used in modern high-performance sport-kite designs, which I also applaud! Nothing I've done has gone into space, other than shining a flashlight upwards and imagining the photons just heading on out into space... And yeah, I've literally done that! :p )
 
Thanks but the diagram shows the perfect observer line at a 23 degree angle rather than a 46 degree angle.
This diagram explains the mechanism of the flare phenomenon pretty well. It shows that the brightest flares will be at the center of the spectrally reflected ray - which will mean that they tend to be brighter when seen from aircraft.

1707329239764.png

This is a version of the diagram that I did where I tried to calculate the angles based on a satellite orbit height of 550km. This means that the flare will be the brightest when the sun is at 46 degrees below the angle of the satellite when seen by the observer.

1707329390561.png

This is a 3d model of the diagram above in Google Earth, it shows that the satellites are about 2000km when they flare.

1707388963357.png

This images shows a time laps of starlink flares and illustrates that there is a sweet-spot where the flares are brightest. Some satellites will miss the sweetspot so won't flare as brightly as the ones that do.

1707329584270.png

And this is a great video that shows how the position of the starlink flares moves up as the earth rotates and the suns relative position to the observer changes in the pre-dawn sky.


But if the flaring satellite is approximately 2000 km away, wouldn't the sun altitude be different at the satellite's location rather than the observer? We only know the location of the observer because that is where the report is made. Also, wouldn't a 46 degree elevation place the satellite in the Earth's shadow and unable to reflect? Thanks for the great explanation. I really appreciate it.
 
Take the subsolar point, mark two rings on the globe 130⁰ and 140⁰ from it, the area between is the one you want to highlight.

I'd also add rays every 10 degrees or so to indicate/predict the direction that the racetrack will be visible.
See new "Glare Band"

2024-02-12_14-01-37.jpg

It's a little ad-hoc, in that I positioned it manually where the reflections occur in Sitrec. Calculating where this actually is gives us about 40° to 53° (i.e. 130° to 143° from the subsolar point)
 
See new "Glare Band"

2024-02-12_14-01-37.jpg

It's a little ad-hoc, in that I positioned it manually where the reflections occur in Sitrec. Calculating where this actually is gives us about 40° to 53° (i.e. 130° to 143° from the subsolar point)
Next feature - sum the population of earth found in that band.
This is screaming to be a trivia teaser - where would the sun be such that it had the most populous luminous annulus?
 
Next feature - sum the population of earth found in that band.
This is screaming to be a trivia teaser - where would the sun be such that it had the most populous luminous annulus?

Ha, I've been thinking about ways of visualizing it. You can get a rough proxy for population from the city lights. For pilots though it's a different matter. I could overlay a flight routes map.

But another significant thing here is how close they are to the northernmost parts of the orbit where the density increases, and you get more interesting trajectories. 2024-02-12_15-41-28.jpg

Here, the UK looks like it's in a good spot, but it's not. You need to go down to the South of France and Northern Spain to start getting good viewing opportunities. Looking towards the sun from London means the flare region is in the nearly-empty zone.


2024-02-12_15-43-43.jpg

Another thing that you can see is just how seasonal it is in some locations. In mid-summer there's no chance of seeing them from the UK, as it's nowhere near the glare band.
2024-02-12_15-49-21.jpg

And there's a similar situation with north-Atlantic tracks.

Hawaii filights, on the other hand, can see them year round here's midsummer, looking North.

2024-02-12_15-52-02.jpg

And midwinter, looking East.
2024-02-12_15-52-54.jpg
 
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Another post from a pilot on Reddit....


Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/1axi86b/pilot_video_from_cockpit_22224_3am_est_sfo_to_fll/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=mweb3x&utm_name=mweb3xcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=share_button

The following submission statement was provided by u/InternationalAttrny:


Submission Statement:

The attached video is from the cockpit of a commercial flight from San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale.

JetBlue pilot taken from cockpit mid flight.

Pilot reports multiple other commercial aircraft reporting seeing.

Trajectory was absolutely non-linear, and they rotated, dimmed, and return to brightness multiple times.

Pilot reports this is the 4th time he’s seen these recently on this red eye route.

Pilot reports they appears to be significantly above his altitude, almost seeming to be in space, but they were extremely bright. Lots of radio chatter too regarding the lights.

Most interesting: during the first few seconds of the video, watch to the left. One dims out, and immediately after dimming you’ll see a large bright flash to the left of the dimmed position.
 
Lights over the Pacific. Originally posted on Reddit.


Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/1azjwy7/lights_in_the_sky_over_the_pacific/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web3x&utm_name=web3xcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=share_button

The following submission statement was provided by u/malediction_mal:


It took over 30 years, but I’ve finally seen something curious in the skies. Ten days ago on February 14th I was able to witness some lights appearing and moving in the sky (up, down, left, and right, with subtle turns) similar to this video but across greater distances. They were very faint and so I was unable to capture anything but grainy darkness. Yesterday, while flying a similar route (I am a flight attendant), I went up to the flight deck around the same time, to see if I might be lucky enough to spot these lights again.

Not captured in the video, at first I noticed two exceptionally bright dots of light that I initially assumed were aircraft in the distance with their landing lights on for some reason. We were at 37,000ft and these objects appeared higher on the horizon so this didn’t make sense, and just to verify they weren’t other aircraft, I pointed them out to the pilots.

Those two lights then faded into the dark and I promptly started filming. What you see in my video is what I was able to capture over the course of roughly 15 minutes of activity. The movement of the lights is subtle, so I tried my best to include sped up footage at the end, to better show the movements our eyes were able to pick up. If you can, I recommend scrubbing through the footage for a better idea of motion of travel. Also make sure the video is on 1080p to reduce noise and artifacting.

At times the lights appeared stationary, then they would slowly accelerate in a direction and disappear. Their motion didn’t look linear to me, especially in the first sighting (again not filmed). Trying to think logically, I understand there will be some people who say it could be satellites, and I will remain neutral for now. What my eyes perceived was that some of the lights oscillated before moving off in a direction. I will be doing this route again at the start of next month and I will certainly keep my eyes peeled, and try to get more footage for us to look over.

I don’t want to speak on the specific route in case it is related to the military, plus I don’t want these sightings to stop in case this post gains traction and deters the potential exercises from continuing. It is quite the light show whatever it is.



Source: https://youtu.be/8WsEHh7gKew?si=TwkLKsWKn6O2KI3u


The pilot used Sitrec to investigate his own sighting and said this...


Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/1azjwy7/comment/ks5419y/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web3x&utm_name=web3xcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=share_button
 
If they don't understand the difference between deployment and final orbit, they have no right to claim to know how satellites move across the sky. Which they did.

No pass given. Classic Dunning Kruger.

And yes, before you ask, code that I've written is orbitting the planet right now.
Totally agree.
In many cases its a misunderstanding that a lot of folks think that the deployment trail is the final presentation. So they don't understand what these flares are.
I've had this conversation with dozens of pilots.

We saw quite a show last night on the redeye from LAX-PHL.
Several very bright ones and many dimmer ones. Easier to see with no moon.
I spent some time attempting to explain to the First Officer what we were seeing.
 
We saw quite a show last night on the redeye from LAX-PHL.
Several very bright ones and many dimmer ones. Easier to see with no moon.
I spent some time attempting to explain to the First Officer what we were seeing.
nice. were your expecting to see them? or did you unexpectedly see them but recognised them?.
 
nice. were your expecting to see them? or did you unexpectedly see them but recognised them?.
We see them on most all night flights heading east across the US.
LAX-JFK

Also all night flights from Hawaii to LAX. Sometimes.

See them on many but not all flights heading west an hour or two after sunset. JFK-LAX.

I know where to look in the sky so I end up pointing them out.
Some of them can be quite bright.

It's most interesting when you see two or three at a time. Sometimes crossing each other.

Helps if there is no moon to see the dim ones.
 
Another NUFORC report with video.

https://nuforc.org/sighting/?id=180588

Occurred: 2024-02-25 21:12 Local
Reported: 2024-02-25 22:27 Pacific
Duration: 5 Minutes
No of observers: 2 - Pilot - Aviation Expert

Location: Washington, DC, USA
Location details: Aircraft at 24,000ft, 100nm from Washington DC

Shape: Light
Color: White
Estimated Size: Undetermined
Viewed From: Aircraft
Direction from Viewer: 300 Degrees
Angle of Elevation: 20
Closest Distance: Undetermined
Estimated Speed: Mach 4+
Characteristics: Aircraft nearby

White light illuminated stationary before rapidly heading North and disappearing

I was the captain of an airline flight approaching Washington DC from the South.

Off our left wing, bearing 300, a white light illuminated, brighter than any star in the sky, appearing to be just above the haze layer. It then moved North at an extremely high rate of speed before disappearing.

Shortly afterwards, there were two dimmer lights in roughly the same position, that also headed North before disappearing.

Then the same formation of lights appeared again, but were appearing and disappearing with no change in relative position.

2 minutes after seeing the first light, two also dim objects in the same relative position appeared to briefly “chase” each other before disappearing.

5 minutes after the beginning of the sighting, a light appeared in the same position, pulsing with about a 2 second period. It became obscured from view by haze as we descended through 12,000ft.

I have been seeing this on a regular basis. They are almost always seen on a bearing between 290 and 300 degrees, beginning at around 9PM Eastern time, regardless of our location.

Sitrec of the rough location (near Washington DC) shows that they were in the Starlink Flare Zone.

1710617808387.png
 
Exactly where I see them heading west over the USA.
Bearing 280-300, 10-20 degrees above the horizon.
I've seen them so many times in the last 18months I know the exact piece of sky to look for them.

White light illuminated stationary before rapidly heading North and disappearing

Off our left wing, bearing 300, a white light illuminated, brighter than any star in the sky, appearing to be just above the haze layer. It then moved North at an extremely high rate of speed before disappearing.

Shortly afterwards, there were two dimmer lights in roughly the same position, that also headed North before disappearing.

Then the same formation of lights appeared again, but were appearing and disappearing with no change in relative position.

2 minutes after seeing the first light, two also dim objects in the same relative position appeared to briefly “chase” each other before disappearing.

5 minutes after the beginning of the sighting, a light appeared in the same position, pulsing with about a 2 second period. It became obscured from view by haze as we descended through 12,000ft.

What I find particularly interesting about this one is the reports from the eye witness and how they phrased their observations. I can see how this would be framed in headlines as "Craft moving at extremely high speed", "formations of craft", "craft hovering with no change in position", "unexplained craft chasing each other" , when infact none of these things actually happened. :rolleyes:
 
What I find particularly interesting about this one is the reports from the eye witness and how they phrased their observations. I can see how this would be framed in headlines as "Craft moving at extremely high speed", "formations of craft", "craft hovering with no change in position", "unexplained craft chasing each other" , when infact none of these things actually happened. :rolleyes:
Exactly.

When I first saw them they appeared to be aircraft orbiting in a holding pattern.
It was very periodic. They were low enough to the horizon to be confusing. I thought maybe they were military refueling tankers like I had worked with while flying in the Navy.
But after traveling several hundred more miles over the ground they didn't appear to change relative bearing to our aircraft. So I knew they must be far away or most likely in space.
Pilots see something like that so far away moving with relative speed it must be moving fast. Hence the description.
That description to the layman is interpreted as the object moving at some Star Wars light speed rate.
 
https://nuforc.org/sighting/?id=180677

Occurred: 2024-03-02 22:23 Local
Reported: 2024-03-03 12:11 Pacific
Duration: 1 hour
No of observers: 2 - Pilot

Location: Beckley, WV, USA
Location details: This is where we were when I first saw it. But it was visible until Pittsburgh.

Shape: Orb
Color: White
Viewed From: Aircraft
Direction from Viewer: 330
Angle of Elevation: 10
Characteristics: Lights on object

My captain and I saw moving stars. Looked kinda like satellites.

First off this is apparently a very common sighting among pilots at my airline. I am new and this was my first time seeing it.

Last night we were flying from Florida to NY. We were at 33,000’, and over beckley airport in WV. My captain pointed out to me the thing four other captains had mentioned previously. This was my first time seeing it.
On about a 320 bearing from our present position he pointed out a star he told me to watch. It stayed completely unchanged for about 10 seconds, and suddenly disappeared instantaneously. Then it reappeared about two inches to the right of my perspective, but dimmer. Then it started moving subtly down the windshield while simultaneously getting brighter and brighter until it dwarfed the brightness of all other stars in the sky. It also appeared to get bigger, as if it was accelerating toward us. It instantaneously disappeared again. This process repeated over the next hour. It moved up, down, sideways, and sometimes completely still. The speed at which it climbed and descended tens of thousands of feet made use know it was not an airplane.

Sometimes there would be two or three of them at once. They did not act in sync. They all seemed to move, dissapear, and reappear randomly.

From the reports of other pilots, it seems that these things showed up about a year ago and have been showing up consistently. They can be seen almost any clear night when you have view of the western skyline from the east coast. I do not know if they are visible from the ground. My guess is they originate from the same spot because I saw them from a 330 bearing in WV, but other people tell me they are usually on a 270 bearing from NY, which seems to line up.

Again this is Starlink Flares and even the witness states that it looked like satellites, but pilots are still reporting them as UFOs.

1710763565737.png
 
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Yes, going eastbound over the US about 2 hours before sunrise you see them bearing 310-330 degrees 10-20 degrees above the horizon.

Going west 2 hours after sunset as I previously wrote.
 
https://nuforc.org/sighting/?id=180677



Again this is Starlink Flares and even the witness states that it looked like satellites, but pilots are still reporting them as UFOs.

1710763565737.png
The only defense I would give to this pilot is that they are seeing something that is confusing and don't understand. They do look like they are in space but they don't move across the sky like most of the satilites we observe while flying. So, if they don't know what they are seeing and it doesn't make sense, they should document the observation in my opinion.

I'm not sure who should be responsible for educating pilots or the public on this phenomenon.
The FAA? The news? The internet? I have been doing the best I can to spread the word thru other forums with my fellow pilots.

I was directed to this site after writing about my observation to Fraser Cain. I'm lucky he answered me. I'm sure he gets a lot of correspondence from his viewers.
 
The only defense I would give to this pilot is that they are seeing something that is confusing and don't understand. They do look like they are in space but they don't move across the sky like most of the satilites we observe while flying. So, if they don't know what they are seeing and it doesn't make sense, they should document the observation in my opinion.
I completey understand how the lights can confuse pilots (in fact - anyone) who sees them. They look very strange and behave unlike any other celestial body, orbiting satellite or aircraft. I am surprised that there has been no official publication about them - either a NOTAM or Air Publication (a UK MoD information circular). what do you think would be the best mechanism to get the info pilots and to ATC?

I think the other concern here is the incorrect dismissal of a genuine collision threat as starlink. With all safety and particularly aviation safety it is much better to err on the side of caution. Obviously not all lights in the sky are starlink - so how do we ensure that pilots can correctly differentiate between the two?
 
Just stumbled across this paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/2403.08155

Enhancing Space Situational Awareness to Mitigate Risk: A Case Study in the Misidentification of Starlink Satellites as UAP in Commercial Aviation​

Over the past several years, the misidentification of SpaceX Starlink satellites as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) by pilots and laypersons has generated unnecessary aviation risk and confusion. The many deployment and orbital evolution strategies, coupled with changing sun specular reflection angles, contribute to this gap in space situational awareness. In this paper we present a case analysis of an incident that generated multiple, corroborating reports of a UAP from five pilots on two commercial airline flights over the Pacific Ocean on August 10th, 2022. This incident included two cell phone photos and a video of an unrecognizable and possibly anomalous phenomenon. We then use supplemental two-line elements (TLEs) for the Starlink train of satellites launched that same day and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) data from the flight with the photographs to reconstruct a view of these satellites from the cockpit at the time and place of the sighting. The success of this work demonstrates an approach that could, in principle, warn aviators about satellites that could be visible in unusual or novel illumination configurations, thus increasing space situational awareness and supporting aviation safety. We conclude with recommendations for governments and satellite operators to provide better a-priori data that can be used to create advisories to aviators and the public. The automated simulation of known specular reflection off constellations of satellites could also support researchers investigating sightings of unfamiliar aerial or aerospace objects as likely being from normal versus novel space events.


The paper appears to be a rehash of the UAP that was going to be presented at the SCU conferece by Professor Richard Griffiths and MUFON Case 124190 discussed here:

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/so...osses-the-north-pacific-starlink-stack.13071/


Metabunk and @Mick West are credited in the Acknowldegments


Their source data is available: https://github.com/DrDougB/Starlink_G4-26

Mick's video:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ev9QOZOieFc
 

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"Thanks to Mick for solving this one, but here's a load of cargo cult esque science trappings etc that show we are somehow still relevant"
 
I completey understand how the lights can confuse pilots (in fact - anyone) who sees them. They look very strange and behave unlike any other celestial body, orbiting satellite or aircraft. I am surprised that there has been no official publication about them - either a NOTAM or Air Publication (a UK MoD information circular). what do you think would be the best mechanism to get the info pilots and to ATC?

I think the other concern here is the incorrect dismissal of a genuine collision threat as starlink. With all safety and particularly aviation safety it is much better to err on the side of caution. Obviously not all lights in the sky are starlink - so how do we ensure that pilots can correctly differentiate between the two?
We have several levels of mitigation for collision threat or perceived threat.
ATC and TCAS (Traffic Alert Collision Avoidense System) provides excellent situational awareness to aircraft within 40 miles.
Pilots are given quite a bit of training on optical illusions as well.
You wouldn't find many pilots doing an avoidance maneuver based on a distant light in the night sky.
These Starlink lights are more of a curiosity because they are difficult to identify based on past recognition of airborne phenomenon.
I don’t see it as a safety issue.
 
Not even as a distraction?
We have distractions like this all the time.
Shooting stars, northern lights, lightning, beautiful sunsets.
We have other distractions like the flight attendants calling the cockpit for passenger issues, meals, bathroom breaks...
These Starlink flares are pretty low on the threat list of distractions.
We use LOSA, Line Operations Safety Audit, observers to collect data on distractions and pilots can use our ASAP, Aviation Safety Action Program, to report safety concerns.

Weather phenomenon or a rocket launch can be distracting! Lots of amazing views in this business.
20220124_150407-01.jpeg20221004_173651-02.jpeg
 
What is going on in that first photo? Is that the actual plane, or a shadow?
That is a "sundog". A circular rainbow formed around the shadow of the aircraft from which the photo was taken. What some might say were WWII Foo Fighters. It appears to follow the aircraft and maneuver around as you fly over a thin layer of ice crystals.

From google:
Sundogs are colored spots of light that develop due to the refraction of light through ice crystals. They are located approximately 22 degrees either left, right, or both, from the sun, depending on where the ice crystals are present.
 
That is a "sundog". A circular rainbow formed around the shadow of the aircraft from which the photo was taken. What some might say were WWII Foo Fighters. It appears to follow the aircraft and maneuver around as you fly over a thin layer of ice crystals.
that halo arround the shadow of the plane is a called a glory or "pilot's glory"

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glory_(optical_phenomenon)

A sundog appears either side of the sun near where the 22° halo appears.

1000068534.jpg
 
Just stumbled across this paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/2403.08155



The paper appears to be a rehash of the UAP that was going to be presented at the SCU conferece by Professor Richard Griffiths and MUFON Case 124190 discussed here:

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/so...osses-the-north-pacific-starlink-stack.13071/



Metabunk and @Mick West are credited in the Acknowldegments



Mick's video:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ev9QOZOieFc

This paper is great. Thanks for posting it.
 
Question relating back to "Why are Starlink "Racetrack" Flares [Mostly] Reported from Planes?"
Is light pollution a factor? Amateur astronomers frequently have to deal with backscattered urban and security lighting when trying to locate celestial objects. In some areas this can be near impossible. We even have a tool called the Bortle Scale to estimate how bad light pollution is on average at a given geographic location.

https://www.cleardarksky.com/lp/Stellafanelp.html

Light pollution limits the visibility of milky way to the unaided eye, the visibility of nebulae and galaxies seen in telescopes, and raises the noise on CCD astro photographs. ...
Content from External Source
So for my location, at Bortle 8, I can't normally see stars fainter that about magnitude 3.5 with the unaided eye. The effect drops off with altitude as there is less dust and moisture between the observer and target to scatter artificial light from below. (reference needed here)

a. In addition to less visual noise in the form of surface traffic, billboards, etc. would light pollution affect the appearance of Starlink to an airborne observer vs one on the ground at the same geographic location?

b. Does light pollution explain why, in some cases, more people do not report UAPs that should have been visible based on time and location alone?
 
Another NUFORC report:

https://nuforc.org/sighting/?id=173388


Occurred: 2022-12-09 04:45 Local
Reported: 2022-12-11 18:35 Pacific
Duration: 25 minutes
No of observers: 3

Location: Southern MI/Northern IN, IL, USA
Location details: 35,000 ft. On flight from LAX-JFK

Shape: Orb


Numerous Orbs from the Flight Deck of commercial flight

I was the Captain on a flight from LAX to JFK on December 8, 2022. Upon returning to the flight deck from a bathroom break, I was told by the first officer to quickly look outside and see what he was viewing. There was a large white orb, with a second one above it and slightly right, in the night sky.

As pilots we try to rationalize and determine what we are looking at and verify that it is no issue for our aircraft. The orbs stayed for a bit and then suddenly vanished. The first officer and the flight attendant, who was in the cockpit while I was in the bathroom, said there had been an even brighter orb which looked like oncoming aircraft traffic just a few moments prior. They had looked at the TCAS with nothing on the display.

The night sky was quite bright due to a full moon in the western sky which was lighting up our whole eastern view of the sky. There was a low overcast layer which kept the ground light from shining through. A few moments later we noticed the orbs again and were shocked by how bright they were.

We had heard earlier that day that Mars would be the second brightest object in the sky, after the moon, due to its proximity to our planet this evening. The orbs that we saw were larger and much brighter than Mars, which we had seen in the western sky during our departure out of LAX. I radioed ATC to have an adjacent UPS flight come up on a separate frequency. I asked them if they were seeing anything in the eastern sky when the orbs showed up again. They said they also saw them. Cleveland ATC got involved in the discussion and asked us to report everything we were seeing. Our location was just east of Chicago airspace near Indiana/Michigan border.

ATC then queried other planes, including an Alaska Airlines flight. Other planes, including a private jet, also reported seeing the orbs. We probably saw the orbs come back into our views seven or eight times over the period of 25 minutes. As I said previously, we tried to rationalize to figure out what we are looking at. The interesting thing to me was the fact that they were extremely bright, and moved extremely quickly when they did. During one of the viewings there were multiple orbs, I counted six, and one of them had moved in an arcing manner. I have seen Starlink satellites numerous times in my career, including a launch chain of Starlink satellites on a flight over the Pacific four years ago. These orbs, when they moved, moved much faster than a Starlink satellite or a common satellite. I estimate the orbs were at a much higher altitude than a satellite would normally be at, as I just by chance was able to see a satellite moving slowly across the sky right after one of our sightings.

Approximately 15 minutes in I viewed what I thought was a shooting star. I have seen many shooting stars during my 32 year career at the airlines. I thought hard about this one and realized most of the shooting stars I have ever seen are very brief and move across or slightly down. This one moved almost straight down from 12 o’clock to 7 o’clock and was extremely bright like the orbs we had been viewing in the previous 15 minutes. It struck me as kind of odd as it moved in a direct straight line and didn’t have the typical tail you would see on a shooting star. About two minutes later, another orb moved the exact same way, exactly parallel to the one I had seen prior. After that I saw a distant orb a few minutes later and that was the last activity witnessed by me.

In total, I estimate that 6-7 flights had some type of viewing of the same orbs we viewed, based on the chatter on ATC frequency. Cleveland ATC did comment that they have have a large uptick in unexplained sightings in the last few months over the Great Lakes area.

I am not an aerodynamic engineer or physicist but I don’t know of anything man made that could fly at that altitude, move that quickly, and be able to turn at that speed and sustain that type of G load. What we witnessed was unexplainable to me. The hair on my neck was standing and my heart was racing due to what we were viewing. In total I viewed the orbs 7-8 times during my 25 minute encounter. The First Officer has some photos and videos that he will add with his report.
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The date time and location of Indiana/Illinois on 9 Dec 2022 at 0445local- 0845UTC puts them right in the middle of the Starlink Flaring Region.

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