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Sightings of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites spark awe — and astronomical angst

25 May 2019, 21:51 UTC
Sightings of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites spark awe — and astronomical angst
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SpaceX’s unorthodox card-dealing launch of 60 Starlink broadband satellites has led to into an unusual viewing opportunity for skywatchers — and an occasion to wonder about the impact of such mega-constellations on the natural night sky.
A video captured by satellite-watcher Marco Langbroek in the Netherlands sums up the awe. “I could not help shouting ‘OAAAAAH!!!!’ he wrote on his SatTrackCam Leiden blog. “Here is the video I shot, be prepared to be mind-blown!”:

It didn’t take long for Langbroek and other skywatchers to work out the coordinates for the long train of satellites, and to plug those coordinates into online satellite-pass calculators such as CalSky. On Twitter, David Dickinson, author of “The Universe Today Ultimate Guide to Viewing the Cosmos,” started doling out location-specific sighting predictions based on the Orbitron satellite-tracking program.
CalSky automatically picks up your coordinates for satellite sightings, but for those in the Seattle area, the best time to look for the Starlink train passing by is likely to be in the range of 10:50 to 11:10 p.m. PT, going from southwest to northeast. That’s a liberal stretch of time that accounts for a range of locations (say, Port Townsend vs. North Bend), plus uncertainties in ...

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