Latest satellites give stargazers a new sky view
by Paul Brinkmann
Washington DC (UPI) Jul 02, 2020
The recent boon of satellite launches has given stargazers something new to look at in orbit. Whether they are delighted or annoyed depends on whom you ask.
SpaceX's Starlink satellites show up in the night sky for short periods like a glowing chain of stars. They are especially visible in the days after a launch -- usually from Florida -- because the company releases about 60 at a time, stacked together.
As they fly around the globe, they spread out in a line.
Eventually, SpaceX signals their ion thrusters to fire, raising them to a higher orbit.
Astronomers have complained the satellites can ruin their observations. In response, SpaceX has worked on ways to dim their visibility, including testing a sunshade. But that won't affect the view until they are in a higher orbit.
In the meantime, others seem to enjoy the spectacle.
"There's no denying the coolness of seeing the string of lights in the sky," said Yan Fernandez, astronomy professor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. "I was able to see them just a few days after a launch, so they were still pretty close together in a line."
SpaceX founder Elon Musk plans to launch thousands more satellites, which beam broadband service to the Earth.
Fernandez and other astronomers say locating such spacecraft, and knowing when they will fly over, is easier than ever. Smartphone apps, such as Satellite Tracker by Star Walk, or websites like Heavens-Above.com, help sky gazers know when to watch.
Dawn and twilight are when the satellites are most visible, but watching from a dark area is still important, Fernandez said.
The Heavens-Above website lets you set up an account and a list of locations and what satellites will be visible in those spots at what time. It also has a simulated sky map telling users what is overhead in real-time.
"We are not having in-person events now, because of the pandemic, but when we do, it's always fun to point out when Starlink or the International Space Station are overhead," Fernandez said.
SpaceX has over 500 of its large dinner table-size satellites in orbit, each weighing over 500 pounds. It began launching 60 satellites at a time in May 2019.
Stargazers have sent in photos of the Starlink chain in the sky to Tennessee-based Amateur Astronomy magazine, said editor Charlie Warren.
"Originally it was a novelty. After the initial launches, people were excited about it and would send in images. Then we heard complaints too, but I think that has died down," Warren said.
US May Freeze OneWeb Sale in Blow to UK Hopes for Own Sat-Nav System
London, UK (Sputnik) Jun 30, 2020
The UK government is working on its own satellite navigation system after Brexit saw it lose membership in Europe's joint project, Galileo. It is understood that Britain could now splash more than $600 million on the ailing satellite operator OneWeb. The United States has warned that it may block the sale of OneWeb to foreign investors over national security concerns in a particular blow to the satellite-hungry UK. Audrey Strauss, the newly-appointed acting US attorney for the southern distr ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.