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West Michiganders confusing string of satellites for UFOs, astronomers say

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Posted at 6:32 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 18:54:44-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — UFO sightings? A string of lights were spotted in the Thursday night sky in communities across West Michigan.

Many people shared photos online claiming it's a sign of extraterrestrial life, while amateur astronomers said it's just satellites.

"We ran outside and started videotaping it, and at that time we realized it could be possibly something extraterrestrial," said Adam Burandt, a Belding resident.

Adam and his roommate captured video in Belding. He said a neighborhood boy was shining a flashlight into the sky when they saw it.

"It went from a long worm into a star, back into a worm, really long. You’ll see in the video. Then as you see it disappearing or going further up into the sky, it just disappeared," said Burandt.

They weren't the only ones who got a front-row seat to the sight.

People sent in photos to FOX 17 from Hudsonville, Richland and even Muskegon claiming they saw the same thing.

Geoff Pryor - Richland, MI
Ginger Herman - Hudsonville, MI

Amateur astronomer Richard Bell with the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society said it was just a group of satellites.

"It sounds like people saw a series of StarLink satellites from SpaceX. That ... that's all it was," said Kalamazoo Astronomical Society's President Richard Bell.

According to SpaceX's wesite, it launched 53 StarLink satellites to low-earth orbit at 1:51 p.m. on Thursday.

They launched just hours before the "UFO" sightings occurred.

"When they first launch, and you might see them in the sky above, you know, they're really close together, so you'll see like a string of small satellites moving and aligned together, across the sky, and it's ... it is an unusual sight. It's not too hard these days to see, like, a single satellite, or even the space station, which is really bright, but, you know, to see, like... a whole trail of these things, like 40 of them, it is kind of unusual," said Bell.

Bell said the best thing you can do is learn the night sky, including the brightest stars, constellations and planets so you know if something looks different.

"A lot of people that believe in extraterrestrial believe with what I am saying," says Burandt. "I don’t believe that it was a rocket or anything like that. The way that it was moving and the way that Isaiah got its attention with the flashlight, I would think that if it was a satellite, shining a flashlight wouldn’t affect it."

Bell suggests people use this website to check for satellite locations.

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