Overland Park-based photographer Reed Hoffmann captured a celestial moment Thursday night that tied the past and the future together in a single image.
While photographing the night sky over an abandoned farmhouse in the Flint Hills near Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, Hoffmann captured a light trail that traveled across the sky formed by a group of satellites launched Tuesday by SpaceX from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX has been launching multiple satellites with single rocket launches to build the company’s Starlink system. The system will consist of 12,000 satellites that will circle the globe and beam internet service to earthbound customers. Tuesday’s launch consisted of 60 satellites which start out circling the globe following each other like train cars in a single file orbit and will eventually spread out and become dimmer as they reach their final orbit altitude.
Hoffmann said he captured the satellites with a 15 second exposure which makes the group appear to be a solid streak of light. When seen with the eye, the satellites appear as individual points of light slowly following each other in a straight path across the sky.
Approximately 1,400 of the satellites have been launched so far so there are plenty of opportunities to see the phenomenon after future launches. A website called findstarlink offers guidance on when and where to to see the satellites based on the viewer’s location.