Zooming past the planet Venus in the 9 p.m. Bitterroot Valley sky Monday night were some of the many newly launched satellites of the Starlink communications system. The launches have been happening for a year now from a California launch site and are releasing 60 small satellites each time. Before they spread out to their designated positions, they appear as a line of bright lights going generally west to east. Elon Musk's SpaceX company is planning to launch at least 12,000 of these little satellites to create a new internet communications system. Sky watchers have noticed the rows of satellites in the days after each launch, and they move at a pretty good speed overhead. Another launch is scheduled for April 23, so there will be opportunities to see more of those odd lineups this weekend. The best place to check your viewing possibilities is heavens-above.com. That site also lets you know when you can see the International Space Station pass overhead (and that's accurate to the minute). Type in Missoula for your location and go from there.

starlink streak
A camera catches the streaking Starlink satellite. (Mike Daniels, Townsquare Media)

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