Stunning Starlink launch images reveal magical 'nebula hanging in the sky' in rare rocket phenomenon
A SPACEX rocket triggered a rare celestial sight as it blasted dozens of satellites into orbit over the weekend.
The Falcon 9 spacecraft, which lifted off from Florida on Saturday, left behind a dazzling stream of colourful smoke in the early morning sky.
Pictured by space fans who shared photos on social media, the phenomenon was caused by sunlight catching the exhaust fumes.
Excited onlookers said the sight looked like a "stunning rainbow" or a "nebula hanging in the sky".
One Twitter user wrote: "What a sight to see this morning! So glad I was awake for this!"
Another said: "Stunning rainbow after recent SpaceX Starlink-8 launch".
A batch of 58 "internet satellites" were launched into orbit on Saturday morning, taking the total number launched by SpaceX to roughly 500.
They were blasted into space onboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
According to Space.com, the rare "nebula" phenomenon appeared due to the time of launch.
The Falcon 9 rocket blasted into space just over an hour before sunrise in the US – an unusual launch window for SpaceX.
"As the rocket climbed into the predawn sky, its exhaust plume was illuminated by sunlight, creating a dazzling view," Space.com said.
Starlink is a controversial scheme that aims to beam Wi-Fi to people from space using a "mega constellation" of thousands of satellites.
The project is the brainchild of tech billionaire Elon Musk, whose California-based rocket firm SpaceX builds and operates the satellites.
Around 500 have been launched so far, with the network eventually set to reach 12,000, rising to as many as 42,000 in the future.
It's hoped that the network will one day provide cheap WiFi access to people across the globe.
What is SpaceX?
Here's what you need to know…
SpaceX is a cash-flushed rocket company that wants to take man to Mars.
It was set up by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX's first aim was to build rockets that could autonomously land back on Earth and be re-used.
Musk hoped the technology would make flying and operating space flights far cheaper.
SpaceX currently uses its reusable rockets to fly cargo to the International Space Station for Nasa.
It also carries satellites and other space tech into orbit for various international governments and companies.
The company will take astronauts up to the ISS for the first time in 2020.
Other future missions involve carrying tourists and astronauts to the Moon.
Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonise Mars to save itself from extinction.
He plans to get a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s.
“With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet … Starlink will deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,” the official website explains.
SpaceX also hires out its reusable rockets for cargo launches to orbit and the International Space Station (ISS).
The California firm last month successfully flew astronauts into space for the first time.
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley soared into the atmosphere aboard a Falcon 9 rocket before docking with the ISS.
In other space news, scientists think they've found a potentially habitable exoplanet.
Elon Musk has said SpaceX's Starship rocket, which he hopes will put Americans on Mars, is now the company's "top priority".
And, Nasa has revealed the design of a moon lander that could take astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024.
Have you ever seen a Starlink satellite in the sky? Let us know in the comments…
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