"‘watching Sputniks cross the sky’"

The Sputnik program (literally meaning "co-traveler") was a series of robotic satellites launched by the Soviet Union. On 4 October 1957 the first of these, Sputnik 1, became the first human-made object to orbit the Earth. 

Sputnik Satellites in orbit
Creative Commons AttributionSputnik Satellites in orbit - Credit: Gregory R. Todd