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Discussion: Starlink group 5 passes tonight and Saturday night

in: Becks; Becks > 2020-04-16

Apr 16, 2020 9:22 PM # 
There are two upcoming passes of the most recently launched SpaceX Starlink satellite group - one tonight and a better one this Saturday night. Both of these passes should be visible to folks from the mid-altantic through New England.

Tonight's pass starts a little low in the SE but moves to directly overhead by the end of the pass as the earth rotates under the orbital plane. 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!

If you can find a spot looking SE over the water with a good horizon you should be able to see them start from the SW and cross the sky in a line to the NE. They'll follow one after another in a line maybe 15-25s apart.

And the pass this Saturday night should be spectacular all up and down the eastern seaboard from Atlanta to Nova Scotia. Look SW for 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 18, 2020 8:35 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 overpass tonight. They are showing sub 1.0 magnitude (smaller is brighter). The 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 Boston & N.E. The tracks will be basically the same for anyone directly under the pass:

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...
Apr 19, 2020 1:43 AM # 
Cloudy night here - not much to see anywhere!

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