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Discussion: starlink group 5 passes tonight and Saturday

in: ken; ken > 2020-04-15

Apr 16, 2020 9:09 PM # 
We'll finally get a look at the most recently launched starlink-5 ("white") group tonight and Saturday night. Tonight's pass starts a little low in the SE but moves to directly overhead by the end of the pass. This will be an even better pass for places in the SE US. Here's the ground track starting at 8:45 PM EDT this evening. The pink circle is the 10-degree elevation line. 43 satellites in 20 mins:

And the pass this Saturday night should be spectacular all up and down the eastern seaboard from Atlanta to Nova Scotia. The sky will be a little bright at the start for us, but all the better since there's a chance of seeing a whole line of bright dots approaching from the SW if the geometry is right. Here's the pass starting at 8:20 PM EDT on Sat, Apr 18:

The launch of the 7th batch (starlink-6) was delayed from today to Apr 23. Hopefully it'll be a favorable inclination for us to see while it is still very compact.
Apr 17, 2020 1:15 AM # 
Cool, I caught sight of a few just now once I figured out what I was looking for. Too many streetlights in my neighborhood.
Apr 18, 2020 7:20 PM # 
heavens-above just updated its magnitude estimates for the starlink-5 group. They had been posting "?" for the brightness through yesterday, but now there are real mags, and they're the brightest I've ever seen for the Baltimore/D.C. overpass tonight. They are showing sub 1.0 magnitude (smaller is brighter). Brightest predicts I've ever seen for any starlink was 2.7, even directly overhead. For reference the brighter stars of the constellations are in the 0-2 magnitude range. Venus, the brightest "star" you'll see in the SW is currently a whopping -4.7 mag, in a waning crescent phase which you can see with a small telescope.

Here are the starlink-5 predicts and sky charts for tonight's passes for D.C.:

I did watch the pass on Friday night but only saw a few constant sats and a large number of "flares" along the expected tracks. So the new magnitude predictions seem a little odd to me, but there's a chance they could be very bright which would be awesome.

We'll see...

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