UPDATE! New launch date – See below for details.
Starlink Launch – The launch has now been postponed until a date to be confirmed in June. Initially the launch was planned for May 17th 2020. SpaceX planned launching another batch of 60 Starlink satellites. You can watch the launch live from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Details to be confirmed.
This will be the 8th launch to date. Bringing the grand total so far to 480 Starlink Satellites in orbit.
The launch window is 03:10 a.m. EDT (07:10 GMT) 08:10 a.m. UK time. The time and date can change at short notice due to weather or technical issues. This will postpone the launch for a later time or date.
Unlike the previous Starlink launch in April. This one isn’t favourable for watching spacecraft and satellites fly over the UK immediately after launch.
The newly deployed Starlink Satellites (Starlink 7), may be visible the same evening. As a very tight white line, or string of pearls passing over in the night sky.
Starlink Satellites – What Are They For?
Without going into too much detail. Starlink is a new space based internet network. Designed to deliver internet to any point on the planet.
Marketed as an option for areas where internet isn’t available. Also marketed as an addition to traditional internet. It will provide internet connectivity for vehicles without the dropouts of signal. Your Tesla will always be connected. Autonomous vehicles will have constant connectivity. The list goes on.
Revenue from Starlink will enable Elon Musk and his company SpaceX to develop their Starship rockets. Eventually establishing the beginnings of a colony on Mars.
Currently, there are plans for 12,000 Starlink Satellites. With an extension of up to 42,000. In addition to this, there are a number competing companies planning their own constellations of satellites.
Combined, this could cause serious light pollution and collision issues. The sky could literally crawl with satellites, which is worrying many.
Starlink satellites can be fairly bright at certain times. However, they are usually on the edge of naked eye visibility. Making them a challenge to spot.
This new batch of Starlink Satellites will have newly fitted sunshades. In an attempt to reduce the satellites brightness. In an attempt to make them near invisible to the naked eye.
Amateur and professional astronomers and many people in general, are eager to see if these sunshades will have an effect. Will they help reduce this new form of light pollution? Even if they do, many astrophotographers believe it will make taking pictures, studying the night sky, or detecting Near Earth Objects, such as asteroids extremely difficult.
How to see them.
Starlink Satellites presently move around the sky in trains or strings of satellites. They range in brightness from the edge of naked eye visibility to the brightness of the stars in the Plough/ Big Dipper. Not as bright as the Space Station but, they move in a similar manner.
You can see when a specific set will be flying over by using a Starlink app or spotting website. Alternatively, you can follow @VirtualAstro on Twitter or Facebook for timely alerts and information on how to see Starlink satellites, the Space Station and other things in the night sky.
However, due to their constantly changing orbits, trains of satellites are hard to predict accurately, especially their brightness. Currently, in the spring of 2020 we can differentiate between the different groups/ trains of Starlink satellites. We can predict when they are passing over and should be able to do so for other groups within a month of their launch. The longer the satellites are in orbit, the more spread apart that specific train becomes. Only the most recent launches will be visible as a string of stars moving across the sky.
Eventually, there will be many satellites covering the sky at any one time. Blanketing the Earth with high speed internet. Let’s hope they don’t ruin science, learning, observations and the serenity of the night sky.