Unidentified Lights in the Sky

Question: What am I seeing in the sky? (I have been fascinated by astronomy ever since I was a kid.  Recently, I have been “starring off” into the night sky for long periods of time.  I have done this out in a desert in Nevada, a beach in Newport, Rhode Island and in Boston Massachusetts.  In all these locations I have seen the exact same thing.  With the naked eye I have spotted a light move across the sky, very distant almost non-visible, as far as some of the most distant stars.  It’s hard to describe and a video camera could not record what I am seeing, but this light is not bright and big but far and faded like a distant star.  It moves fast across the sky like a plane or a satellite but it is entirely impossible to be either of the sort.  Unless, there are satellites as far as the most distant stars and “ARE” still visible to the naked eye.  They do not follow a distinct orbit, they seem to have their own direction. I cannot remember the distinct pattern and I do not want to give false information until I see this phenomena again, but usually I can follow the light in the sky for a few minutes (5-7 at the most) until it is so faded it is impossible to find in the sky again (that’s how far away it is!) I am really intrigued by this and I am desperate for an answer.  Please help me figure out what it is, thank you!  – Krysta

Answer: Satellites orbiting the Earth very often look like points of light which are moving relative to the background stars.  Earth orbiting satellites shine by reflected light from the Sun, but they are small so that reflected light looks a lot like a star.  What you describe sounds very much like a satellite, except that they are not normally visible for more than 30 seconds or so.

Jeff Mangum

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