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Row of lights in C.O. sky are SpaceX satellite network

(Update: More Starlink sighting info from OMSI official)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- That line of bright lights in the sky seen lately over Central Oregon are part of the SpaceX Starlink project, which has sent aloft dozens of satellites with a goal of bringing Internet service to areas around the globe.

Here's some info offered up Saturday by Jim Todd, OMSI's director of space science education in Portland:

This Is What Space X's Starlink Satellites Look Like in the Night Sky

Lately, with the unusual clear weather for April and everyone staying at home, more are observing the skies -- particularly with the excitement of the orbiting satellites sighting called Starlink, as they move across the sky.

It is work in progress of a massive satellite network that Space X is developing to provide low-cost internet to remote locations worldwide.

According to Space X, they launched 362 Starlink satellites to date. Since last May, Space X has launched six dedicated Falcon 9 flights for the Starlink network, each with 60 satellites on-board. Space X plans to deploy nearly 1,500 Starlink satellites to provide global Internet connectivity. Thousands more will eventually be launched. 

If all goes to plan, they are scheduled to be publicly available by the end of 2020.

The beloved sightings of Iridium flares are nearly gone from Earth’s night skies, as the original set of 66 Iridium communications satellites have been decommissioned in 2019 and are being allowed to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.  

If you would like to try and see the Starlink satellites, check the website, Heavens Above (https://www.heavens-above.com/), and then select 'Starlink passes for all objects from a launch' for the calculated sightings.  Each launch of Starlink (Starlink 1, Starlink 2, Starlink 3, Starlink 4) has periods of sighting opportunities.  

For example, Starlink 4 Launch, from now through May 9th, Starlink will be visible during the evenings near midnight. Soon, Starlink 5 will be launched in late April and a new list of sighting times will be available soon after.

The satellites, which are now orbiting at approximately 273 miles above the Earth, are putting on a show for observers as they move across the night sky.  For about 6 minutes each, the 60 satellites appear as a "moving train" of moderately faint magnitude points of light between +2 to +4, near the brightness of the stars in Ursa Minor.

General motion varies, appears to be moving from west to east around 20 to 40 degrees above the horizon. For best viewing, position yourself in as dark a location as possible, far from any bright lights that otherwise could hinder your view.

Initially, the satellites were seen to be stretched out in a straight line measuring roughly 5 to 8 degrees in apparent length. According to Space X, as the satellites revolve around Earth at 90 minute intervals, they should appear less "bunched" together and may actually get a bit fainter as they are slowly raised to their operational orbits of 342 miles.

Considering the fact that the satellites are all generally faint, it is best to try and position yourself in as dark a location as possible, far from any bright lights that otherwise could hinder your view.

Scanning the sky with binoculars will certainly help. A lot depends on just how the angle of reflected sunlight strike the satellites in the hours just after sunset or before sunrise.

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KTVZ News Team

Comments

11 Comments

  1. No longer a fan of Musk and SpaceX. He wants to get to Mars before he dies because he could careless about us amebas here on this planet. They were supposed to blacken their sats so that the sats would not be much visible. Astronomers are upset and they have tried to pressure Musk to do something about this. Musk’s answer: he will launch MORE of these in the next day or so and will do so until they get THOUSANDS of these in the sky. Astronomers are not the only people who are upset. People who just plain love nature un-cluttered must put pressure on Musk!

  2. I know many are upset when they’re stargazing and see this train of lights. It ruins their evening. Personally, I think it would be kind of cool to see this.

  3. This is a crime against humanity…. it’s like looking at the ocean in santa Barbara area. You see a oil rig and think for a second wow it interesting how an oil rig works…. then a few mins later you realize I cant believe they ruined this amazing view so someone can make a few bucks. I saw these satellite a few days ago…some were very reflective… it was obnoxious… it may be cool for a few seconds but they ruin your view if you are night gazing….

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