Starlink string of pearls crosses sky tonight

The line of Starlink5 satellites crossing the sky on Friday night. Photo/Video: Rosalie Liddle Crawford

Click the image above to watch the video

Bay of Plenty residents had an opportunity last night for a very clear viewing of the recently launched Starlink5 satellites as they soared overhead in single file across the night sky.

Starlink 5 is due back again tonight, Saturday March 21, with the hope that the sky will remain clear of clouds. The easiest way to spot the long string of moving lights will be to find Venus - the extremely bright star-like object in the north-west -  about 8.15pm and then wait a couple of minutes.

Dave Gregg from the Tauranga Astronomical Society says that on Friday night, the latest-to-be-launched Starlink train, Starlink5, flew past around 8.13pm. Rising in the northwest to the right of Venus, it passed to the left of the three bright stars in Orion’s Belt, then to the left of the very bright star Sirius before reaching maximum elevation angle of 87 degrees at 8.16pm, as seen from Tauranga.

“Weather permitting, Starlink5 is expected to be visible tonight, Saturday 21 March from around 8.17pm,” says Dave.

Dave says that this time Starlink5 will rise in the northwest to the left of Venus and will pass across the south western half of the sky, reaching maximum elevation angle of 43 degrees at 8.19pm, as seen from Tauranga.

“It looks like there will be at least five satellites leading ahead of the main train tonight,” says Dave. “This pass will be easily visible throughout New Zealand but will be best viewed from near Wellington where it will pass directly overhead.

“Please allow an extra few minutes after the predicted times in case of changes due to the manoeuvring of the satellites.”

A view of SpaceX's first 60 Starlink satellites in orbit, still attached and awaiting deployment, after their launch on May 23, 2019. Image: SpaceX

American company SpaceX successfully launched Starlink5 – the new batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit on March 18.

The launch flight also marks the sixth time a batch of Starlink satellites have been deposited into orbit, bringing the total number of satellites to more than 350. The company has several more Starlink missions planned for this year, with an additional 180 satellites due to launch.

Starlink is a satellite constellation being constructed by SpaceX to provide satellite Internet access. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites, working in combination with ground transceivers.

According to the program's website, SpaceX plans on rolling out coverage to the United States and Canada sometime this year. With one more flight, the company could potentially have the minimum number of satellites to do so, as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk previously said that the company needs somewhere between 400 and 800 satellites in orbit to begin offering its service.

Friday night, March 20, 2020:

                   Map graphic:

Saturday night, March 21, 2020:

                      Map graphic:

You may also like...

1 Comment

should be illegal

Posted on 21-03-2020 20:20 | By This Guy

Should be illegal to pollute the sky with this stuff, one company should not get to destroy our understanding of where we fit in the universe by making it impossible for astronomers on earth to do their jobs.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now