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Wednesday Morning's Starlink Chain/Train

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#1 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 29 May 2024 - 03:25 PM

After doing some front yard observing with my 6" f/10 Celestron NexStar Evolution SCT late last night after the skies cleared, I stayed up long enough to witness a pass of the G6-60 chain or train of Starlink satellites.  While I'm certainly no fan of what is happening in LEO and what will happen in the future, I see no point in not observing such events.

This was the first time that I saw Starlink satellites emerge from the Earth's shadow, and it was by far the most spectacular satellite emergence that I've ever experienced.  I had my Canon 15x50 IS trained at the exact location from which the Starlink satellites emerged and counted 23 of them in rapid succession.  Unfortunately, with bright moonlight, red zone light pollution, and wildfire smoke, the sight was not nearly as good as it would have been under better conditions.  

I also took some 10-second-long iPhone Night mode photographs of the satellites.  The sky in the processed photos is much darker than it appeared at the time.

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  • Starlink G6-60 5-29-24 AM iPhone Night Mode 1 IMG_8875.jpg

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#2 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 29 May 2024 - 03:25 PM

(continued)

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  • Starlink G6-60 5-29-24 AM iPhone Night Mode 2 IMG_8876.jpg

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#3 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 29 May 2024 - 03:28 PM

(continued)

 

Here's a screencap from Heaven's Above showing the location from which the satellites emerged.

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  • Starlink G6-60 Screenshot 5-29-24 Heaven's Above.png


#4 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 29 May 2024 - 03:34 PM

(continued)

 

Here's another screencap that indicates the satellites in the G6-60 launch.

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  • Starlink G6-60 Screenshot 5-29-24 AM Heavens Above.png


#5 SNH

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Posted 29 May 2024 - 05:37 PM

Thanks, Dave. I set my alarm and got up specifically to see the "Starlink Sword". As for there being up there, all I can say is that SpaceX is working harder to please astronomers than any other group planning to send up hundreds of to form "constellations". They just reached out to the lead author of a group I'm working with...asking for our amateur observations of them to know how bright their new "direct to cell" ones are. No other one has done that. Heck, until I submitted my observations of Amazon's satellites, they were not sharing anything. Afterwards, though, they started to do so!

 

Bottom line, you and others can help to mitigate the situation by obtaining carefully made magnitude estimates. These are then used by the companies to find ways to "improve" their satellite designs. BlueWalker 3 is a classic example. Our paper gave them such bad press that they delayed the launch of BlueWalker 4 to perform design changes and started experimenting with the orientation of BW3 during certain passes.

 

Scott H.


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#6 JohnTMN

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 01:52 AM

Dave!

Your logging a Starling train!! As being unique?


Edited by JohnTMN, 30 May 2024 - 01:55 AM.


#7 Freezout

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 03:00 AM

Thanks, Dave. I set my alarm and got up specifically to see the "Starlink Sword". As for there being up there, all I can say is that SpaceX is working harder to please astronomers than any other group planning to send up hundreds of to form "constellations". They just reached out to the lead author of a group I'm working with...asking for our amateur observations of them to know how bright their new "direct to cell" ones are. No other one has done that. Heck, until I submitted my observations of Amazon's satellites, they were not sharing anything. Afterwards, though, they started to do so!

 

Bottom line, you and others can help to mitigate the situation by obtaining carefully made magnitude estimates. These are then used by the companies to find ways to "improve" their satellite designs. BlueWalker 3 is a classic example. Our paper gave them such bad press that they delayed the launch of BlueWalker 4 to perform design changes and started experimenting with the orientation of BW3 during certain passes.

 

Scott H.

Thanks SNH, what you and your group are doing is probably one of the most important task with impact on light pollution for generations to come. I truly admire that work.



#8 JTEC

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 05:15 AM

I’m concerned to hear highly respected observers seeming to condone - or at least failing to protest - this unchecked pollution of the night skies.  Starlink is, as has been pointed, not the only offender in what looks for all the world like an unchecked, exploitative free for all. I’m aware of the arguments both ways, but don’t buy the ‘for the good of mankind’ pitch when the much more obvious explanation has to do with markets and profit. I’m also aware of the lip service that has been paid by Starlink (and others) to protecting the interests of astronomy.  So far, its effects haven’t amounted to much.  Originally, the satellites when in orbit would have been around mag 7 optically.  That’s plenty bright enough to mess up professional and amateur observation, for example, the wide field work of the Vera Rubin project, and to pollute visually at the very darkest sites. Tuning down the visual brightness resulted in the satellites being brighter in the IR, shifting wavelength but still a big concern for professionals. And this, of course, says nothing about their much greater brightness on the way up and on the way down.

Research and serious observation apart, what of the beauty of the unspoiled night sky?  Or have we already given up on that? 


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#9 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 11:56 AM

Dave!

Your logging a Starling train!! As being unique?

Exactly where did I say unique?  I've witnessed a number of Starlink chains/trains in the past, but it was the first time that I saw one emerge from the shadow of the Earth and it was quite a sight as seen through my Canon 15x50 IS.



#10 PIEJr

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 12:48 PM

When any of this Space Junk ruins an exposure, I delete it.

I call those Musk Tracks.

Just more garbage put up to make somebody rich.

 

IMHO!



#11 SNH

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 12:49 PM

Hello, and welcome to CloudyNights!

 

I’m concerned to hear highly respected observers seeming to condone - or at least failing to protest - this unchecked pollution of the night skies.

 

I'm only aware of observers failing to protest...I know of no skilled observers who are condoning megaconstellation satellites. The hard part is knowing how to have the most effect protest. If you have options, I welcome them.

 

Starlink is, as has been pointed, not the only offender in what looks for all the world like an unchecked, exploitative free for all. I’m aware of the arguments both ways, but don’t buy the ‘for the good of mankind’ pitch when the much more obvious explanation has to do with markets and profit.

 

I will say that before A.I. starts taking over the Internet and creating more and more false content, it seems that giving the good parts of the Internet to under-served communities around the globe is a good idea. The problem is that to do so currently means to take something away from all members of the globe without their permission.

 

I’m also aware of the lip service that has been paid by Starlink (and others) to protecting the interests of astronomy.  So far, its effects haven’t amounted to much.

 

I've bumped into a few bloggers and "reports" funded by SpaceX that write about them in a favorable light every day. They disgust me because while it is obvious they are being paid, they don't have a disclaimer with their articles.

 

Originally, the satellites when in orbit would have been around mag 7 optically.  That’s plenty bright enough to mess up professional and amateur observation, for example, the wide field work of the Vera Rubin project, and to pollute visually at the very darkest sites. Tuning down the visual brightness resulted in the satellites being brighter in the IR, shifting wavelength but still a big concern for professionals. And this, of course, says nothing about their much greater brightness on the way up and on the way down.

 

Oh, I know. What scares me is that it seems they may never get them faint enough.

 

Research and serious observation apart, what of the beauty of the unspoiled night sky?  Or have we already given up on that?

 

I think that for the majority of folks who don't think anything of the night sky, your second question is, sadly, the answer. People just are out of touch with Nature...with some of them thinking they are because of their belief in crystals and astrology.


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#12 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 02:24 PM

I, for one, do not condone satellite megaconstellations.  I've said so numerous times in the past and I had thought that I had made that clear in my original post.  There are many reasons that megaconstellations pose serious risks, not only to professional optical and radio astronomy, but their general brightening of the night sky, the contamination of the upper atmosphere with vaporized metals when such satellites are deorbited which may also affect the Earth's magnetosphere, and the possibility of a Kessler Syndrome disaster.


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