This article about "strange red glows over Texas" claims that for Starlink launches from Florida, the second stages do a deorbit burn over Texas resulting in a South Atlantic Ocean impact.

The article specifically talks about a "strange red glow" on April 10th. This article confirms that there was such a Starlink launch on April 10 so that much is true.

Is the American-Statesman article correct about the location of the deorbit burn? I'd love to see a ground track for the 2nd stage with the burn and impact locations annotated for this mission, but I don't know where to look for this info, and my searching has been ineffective.

My motivation is to try to look for this some night.

  • $\begingroup$ I'd just mention that the linked article says the photo was taken in Big Bend National Park, which has one of the darkest skies in the continental united states. I don't know how bright those glows are, but if you're going to look for one, you may have difficulty finding a sky clean enough to pick it out. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ Deorbiting objects burning up in the atmosphere tend to be quite bright and easily visible with naked eye, considerably brighter than stars. As long as you can see any stars, you'll clearly see the deorbited stage burning up, no super clean and dark conditions needed. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Jun 11 at 8:05

1 Answer 1


Here's the ground track for the 2nd stage, pulled from the live stream of that launch (Starlink 6-48).

I don't have data on the deorbit burn or impact, but the deorbit burn does tend to happen at 90 minutes / one full orbit, which would indeed place it over Texas, so that checks out.

Trajectory visualisation of launch Starlink 6-48.

The source that your article cites is this one, from spaceweather.com. They explain the red glow as being caused by the chemical reaction between exhaust gasses and oxygen producing red light. As far as I know spaceweather.com is fairly reliable, and they also link to other times the red glow has been observed, for example here.

This chemical reaction probably happens a bit after the burn itself, because the deorbit burn itself looks different. Here's a shot from redditor CatchingTimePHOTO of an actual deorbit burn.

Falcon 9 second stage deorbit burn as seen from Earth.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The April 10th deorbit burn that was seen in Texas was a Starlink group 6 launch which go to 43 degree inclination. There have been a lot of group 6 launches lately but also some group 8 launches as well which go to 53 degrees inclination. The deorbit burn for 53 degrees seems to be over Europe about two hours after launch. The last group 6 launch was on June 1st, the three Starlink launches since then have been group 8 and group 10 (53 degrees). The next five Starlink launches are groups 7 (53 degrees), 8, 9 (? degrees) and 10. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10 at 14:37

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