THEY look like a pearl necklace when they traverse the night sky, but not everybody is happy about the Elon Musk communication satellites that are being launched in big numbers to improve internet connectivity.
The third launch of Starlink satellites took place at Cape Canaveral in Florida on January 6 and the satellites are still travelling together as they rise to their operational altitudes and positions.
Following the launch of 60 additional Starlink satellites, SpaceX became the largest commercial satellite constellation operator in the world.
The satellites are propelled into space by Falcon 9 rockets.
In the initial phase, Elon Musk’s SpaceX will create a constellation of 12,000 satellites in “low-earth orbit,” at 350,550 and 1150 kilometres above earth to provide worldwide internet access.
Each of the table-sized satellites is powered by a solar panel.
Several Eastern Bay residents have reported seeing a chain of satellites crossing the sky on Wednesday evening, with reported times varying from 9.30pm to 10.10pm.
SpaceX planned to launch its next group of Starlink satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket yesterday.
While some people living in the outback might be happy that they will soon have internet access, many astronomers and other space aficionados have expressed concerns that space is getting filled with “junk”.
Whakatane Astronomical Society president Norm Izett is not impressed.
“They are putting all this shrapnel up there,” he said.
“Both amateur astronomers and the big observatories are concerned about this.”
Mr Izett said that when looking through a telescope, you were focusing on a miniscule segment of the sky and it was unlikely that you would happen on a satellite.
“If they go through where you’re looking, you get a fright,” he said.
A bigger problem was for the people who were taking long-term photographic exposures of the night sky.
“The satellites cause all sorts of problems,” Mr Izett said.
“They will be whizzing past like a meteor shower.”
Other space experts have expressed concerns that satellites will simply run into one another, due to crowding.
You can also try finding viewing times by Googling “SpaceX Starlink Satellites Tracker” which lists both new and old satellites.