The SpaceX satellites were visible towards the end of April, baffling many stargazers who did not know what they were seeing. SpaceX has so far launched 422 satellites into orbit as Elon Musk, 48, expands his constellation of internet-beaming satellites. The Starlink constellation, which has been branded an eyesore by astronomers, could one day number 12,000 satellites.
And though Starlink sightings are not always guaranteed across the UK, many stargazers have reported bright trains in the night skies.
One person tweeted: “@VirtualAstro at last! Saw 36 Starlink 5 go over SW London, light pollution and all! So chuffin’ excited!”
Another person said: “It’s not often you can look up into the night sky and see tens of #satellites passing overhead in succession.
“Counted 39 of the 60 #Starlink-5 sats that just flew over London. Pretty impressive sight. Thanks @VirtualAstro!”
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Can you see Starlink tonight?
Starlink satellites are launched in batches of 60, each named Starlink-1, Starlink-2, Starlink-3, and so on.
The newer batches are easier to spot at night because their orbits are lower but will rise in time.
On average, the Starlink satellites race around the globe at heights of about 341 miles.
As a result, the satellite trains can be hard to spot, particularly, if you live in a densely populated area.
Light pollution is always an astronomers’ biggest enemy.
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According to the Starlink tracker FindStarlink.com, viewing conditions tonight (May 1) are poor and will likely remain this way for the next five days.
Counted 39 of the 60 #Starlink-5 sats
The website reads: “Sorry, the newest Starlink – launched April 2020 – isn’t very visible at your location during the next 5 days.
“This might change in the coming weeks, due to changing orbits. The older Starlinks might still be visible.”
But you can still try your luck with the sightings listed below.
All times are in BST and for London.
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Starlink visibility from London
Timings with good visibility:
3.39am, May 2 – Starlink-3 – For three minutes.
Look from the southwest to the southeast.
10.25pm, May 3 – Starlink-3 – For six minutes.
Look from the southwest to the east.
Timings with poor visibility:
3.04am, May 1 – Starlink-3 – For three minutes.
Look from the west to the east.
4.37am, May 1 – Starlink-3 – For four minutes.
Look from the west to the south.
10.09pm, May 1 – Starlink-5 – For three minutes.
You can also use the website to check a live map of the orbital paths the satellites are following.
However, keep in mind there is no guarantee the satellites will be reflective enough to be seen.
The Starlink satellites complete a lap around the planet once every 90 minutes, meaning a Starlink train visible at 9pm should be visible again at 10.30pm.
The website’s creator said: “Many reports of failed sightings were received for Starlink this week. I’m very sorry it didn’t work out.
“After investigating – and with Dr Marco Langbroek’s guidance – it seems to have been caused by not taking into account the shape and possible orientation of the Starlink satellites.
“The software has been fixed, and I hope that solves most of the problems, but there are still no guarantees you’ll see Starlink.
“I’ve been wrong before and I’ll continue monitoring this. I apologize for the inconvenience, and understand how annoying it must be to try several times and not see anything.”
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