IF YOU'VE been up and about in the frosty, silent hours before sunrise recently and seen something odd in the sky, you're not alone, writes STUART ATKINSON. People all across the country have been reporting seeing strange lights crossing the night sky - trails of a dozen or more of them, like beads on a string, drifting silently through the stars. Are they UFOs? Are we being invaded? No. They do look odd at first glance, and it's easy to see them sailing through the constellations and assume they're warmongering aliens from a faraway world come to blast or enslave us, but the truth is no less bizarre: they're small satellites called Starlink, launched by the private space company SpaceX.

There are now dozens and dozens of Starlink satellites up there, orbiting Earth in long trains, like celestial Tour de France riders, and at certain times we can see them moving through the sky in a long line. SpaceX plans to place many thousands of Starlinks into orbit, which is concerning many people, because if they do there'll be more satellites in the sky than stars.

As we move through next week, keep an eye open for other lights moving across the sky - natural ones this time. On the evening of December 13/14 the annual Geminid meteor shower will reach its peak, and although the presence of a blindingly-bright Full Moon will reduce the number of faint meteors we see, the brightest shooting stars should still be visible through the lunar glare. How do you see them? Simple. Go out after midnight on the 13th, look towards the east and wait. Eventually you will see a shooting star. The longer you stay to the more you'll see, but be careful to dress safely for the cold weather.