By Duncan Steel 08/02/2020 4


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In a previous post I described briefly when and how the Starlink satellite chains – recent launches by Space-X in a scheme to bring 5G internet connectivity to the whole globe – could be seen from New Zealand with the naked eye. Here I provide an update and predictions for the next several days. 

My preceding post included a link to a movie showing how the Starlink satellite chains will cross the sky near New Zealand in the evenings of February 5th-9th. An updated movie available here shows the passages on February 7th-11th by the various Starlink satellites in both the pre-dawn and the post-dusk timeframes for NZ, these being the times of day in which NZ residents will have a dark sky and yet the satellites will still be bathed in sunlight at their orbital altitudes.

There is much information available online about the Starlink system, the orbits the satellites follow, and their purpose(s). An example is here. If you would like to know more about the orbital elements for specific satellites, an excellent source is the CelesTrak website.

In the frame-grabs below I show the most-favourable opportunities for observing these overpasses from NZ over the next several days.

 

Starlink chain pass just north of NZ, evening of Saturday February 8th.

 

Starlink satellite chain passing just west of NZ, early morning of Sunday February 9th.

 

Starlink chain passes over the North Island, about eight minutes before- and after-10pm, Sunday February 9th.

 

Chain passes just north of NZ, between about 8:45 and 9:00 pm, Monday February 10th.

 

Starlink satellite chain passes just to the north of Wellington, visible from throughout NZ between about 9:08 and 9:22 pm, Tuesday February 11th.

 

For each of the chains indicated in the still frames above I have checked the visibility and brightness for one of two of the individual satellites from various NZ locations, so as to ensure that what I had guessed from viewing the movie was correct. There are, however, other passes by individual satellites (and likely chains) that I have not highlighted here.

The best way to discover what might be seen from your location is to use the Heavens Above website, wherein you can enter your town or latitude/longitude and then get predictions of visibility for any satellite you might care to select.

For example, if you go to the Heavens Above Satellite database page and enter a ‘Satellite number range’ of 44914 to 44973 then you will be able to click to get visibility predictions for the batch of 60 Starlink satellites launched on January 7th. The launch on January 29th has NORAD numbers 77120 through 77196.

 


4 Responses to “Update on how to see the Space-X satellite chains from NZ”

  • Space X is dominating space studies and centers. Elon Musk is crazy and he’s doing incredible inventions every year, even months.

    • Thanks Anna… Well, SpaceX is dominating the news, but it is pretty amazing what else is happening too. Generally, space-wise, the level of commercial activity is blossoming, as Space 2.0 really hits its stride.

  • Hi. On Friday I found a website which told/showed where the satellite chain would be passing over NZ and it pin pointed my location on the map. It said they would pass over at 8:15 Saturday night – and they did – amazing to see! Now I cannot find that website. I would love to see them again. Do you by any chance know where I can find this info please?

    • Hi Sharon/Digger: Thanks for the comment.

      The best site I know/use is https://www.heavens-above.com/

      Just search on “Heavens-Above”.

      You can set up a login there (all free, and brilliant) so that you can store your own location (or the locations of friends and relatives who you might want to keep informed) and then with a couple of clicks you will be able to see information on all visible passes by your chosen satellites for the next week or so. The site also allows you to make sky/star maps showing the paths they (Starlink/SpaceX chains, or the International Space Station, and so on) will take.

      Your comment has spurred me into doing a blog post about this (viewing predictions for the Starlink March 18th launch) which I will put up later here on the SciBlogs website.

      Any more questions, please do ask.

      Cheers,
      Duncan