LONG ISLAND, NY — It’s definitely not a bird, and not exactly a plane, nor Superman on this way back to his day job at The Daily Planet.
But as a trail of light burst across the South Shore of Long Island on Saturday many residents did come to wonder what it was that they seeing, and they stopped in their tracks to grab a few pixels of video on their cellphones.
What “it” turned out to be was a vapor trail from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 shooting across the sky after its Starlink mission launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Due to clear conditions, the launch of over 52 Starlink satellites was visible to people all across the East Coast just after 7:30 p.m., Space.com reported.
Viewers close by the launchpad witnessed Falcon 9’s first stage, in which it fell back to Earth for a soft landing on top of the SpaceX drone ship, “A Shortfall of Gravitas”, in the Atlantic Ocean, the website reported.
SpaceX has been expanding its Starlink mega-constellation, sending almost 3,400 Starlinks into space with a plan to bring thousands more aloft, according to the website.
That was only days away from an expected up close and personal view of the planet Jupiter on Monday, which was scheduled to swing closest to earth’s orbit for the first time in 59 years.
Saturday drew some real attention as followers posted their shots and video to social media.
Tom DeSantis Of Farmingdale also captured the spectacle, shooting it sailing across the sky before it faded away into the night. The video, which was published on Farmingdale Patch on Monday, has over 40,000 views.
In Bellport, the identified object could be seen flying over Avino’s Italian Table in a video tweeted by Rich Franklin. He posed the question to followers: “#UFO or #Spacex?”
News 12 reported receiving phone calls from many viewers who reported seeing the mission.
“What a sight to see in the Saturday night sky!” wrote Meredith Garofalo as she shared a post from viewers in Woodbury.
But the spectacle did not end there.
Long Island residents were still being treated to a spectacular view on Monday as Jupiter dropped by.
Not so far away from that view … a little less obvious was the planned crash of a NASA spacecraft into an asteroid at around 7:30 p.m. on Monday.
Space.com called the crash wild, as it was something out of a Star Wars movie minus the Death Star.
NASA declared “impact success” at about 7:19 p.m. on Twitter, displaying video from the #DARTMIssion’s DRACO Camera, describing the spacecraft as the size of a “vending machine” successfully colliding with the asteroid, Dimorphos, “which is the size of a football stadium and poses no threat to Earth.”
That might be the last of the space shows for a while as, Hurricane Ian has delayed SpaceX’s five-crew launch from Cape Canaveral until Oct. 4, Space.com reported late Tuesday.