Starlink, SpaceX’s internet connectivity constellation, is coming together. In the early stages of SpaceX’s grand development, fans will be able to see the Starlink satellites in the night sky.
The satellites will enable high-speed, low-latency internet access to people in remote and under-connected areas. The end-goal is gigabit speeds with latencies in the tens of milliseconds, comparable to ground-based connections. SpaceX plans to do this by launching thousands of satellites to an altitude of 550 kilometers above Earth. The most recent batch launched on August 18, bringing the total number of current-generation craft in the sky to 593.
This week, a new report suggested satellite constellations like Starlink could have wide-ranging and long-term effects on the night sky. The American Astronomical Society published a report claiming low-Earth orbit satellites could affect ground-based astronomy observations.
The report suggests six ideas for mitigating the effects, some of which SpaceX already follow. These include deploying satellites at orbital altitudes no higher than 600 kilometers, darkening satellites using sunshades, or offering more accurate orbital information. SpaceX has been working with the Society over the past few months and deployed changes like the “VisorSat” sunshade.
But as launches continue, eagle-eyed fans are looking to the sky to see the constellations. The FindStarlink website tracks potential sightings, keeping fans up to date.
Unfortunately, it may become increasingly harder to see the satellites over time. The FindStarlink website notes that on the whole, Starlink sightings are hard to spot. The website receives a report of a successful sighting every now and then, and it says it’s aiming to improve their predictions. As such, every potential sighting opportunity listed below comes with a warning that it may not be visible, based on recent reports.