Author Topic: Starlink : Satellite Spotting  (Read 45983 times)

Offline OxCartMark

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Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« on: 12/23/2018 05:58 pm »
For links to other Starlink discussion threads, launch threads, and FCC filings take a look at the Starlink Index Thread



As I write this we've had the first set of 60 Starlink satellites launched and they're in a dramatic train formation.  As is usual postings about ground observations of those satellites is in the discussion thread for the launch that put them there.  But this isn't a usual satellite launch as there are 60 observable satellites and there will be numerous additional ~60 satellite launches.  It will quickly get awkward to have to determine what launch the Starlink satellites you observe went up on so you can post in the right launch discussion thread.  So here is a new thread to be the central discussion point for all observations of flying Starlinks; TLEs, predicted sighting times and locations, missing satellites, re-entries, re-positioning, sighting reports, photographic images etc.

edit/gongora: This post was really written on May 26, 2019 but I'm fudging things a bit to allow other posts to be merged in here.
« Last Edit: 01/21/2020 10:49 pm by gongora »
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Offline ChrisC

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #1 on: 05/25/2019 02:48 pm »
Flight Club
@flightclubio

You can import and plot TLEs in Flight Club without being a Patron! Get out and spot #Starlink tonight in just over 30 minutes!

TLE here: http://www.satobs.org/seesat/May-2019/0193.html
Copy+paste it into here: https://www2.flightclub.io/dashboard

Revised TLE from Marco Langbroek

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/May-2019/0228.html

Quote
STARLINK TRAIN
1 70002U 19999A   19144.94244262 0.00000000  00000-0  00000+0 0    00
2 70002  53.2862 172.0411 0001500  47.9022 312.2115 15.45905383    01

I tried this and the results aren't really making any sense to me.  The earth isn't rotating under the Starlink plane, and the orbit seems to jump around every couple days.  (I realize that they will change orbits over time, but this single TLE won't reflect that, since it's just a single orbit definition.)
« Last Edit: 05/25/2019 02:50 pm by ChrisC »
PSA #1: EST does NOT mean "Eastern Time".  Use "Eastern" or "ET" instead, all year round, and avoid this common error.  Google "EST vs EDT".
PSA #2: It's and its: know the difference and quietly impress grammar pedants.  Google "angry flower its" .

Offline Semmel

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #2 on: 05/25/2019 07:59 pm »
Flight Club
@flightclubio

You can import and plot TLEs in Flight Club without being a Patron! Get out and spot #Starlink tonight in just over 30 minutes!

TLE here: http://www.satobs.org/seesat/May-2019/0193.html
Copy+paste it into here: https://www2.flightclub.io/dashboard

Revised TLE from Marco Langbroek

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/May-2019/0228.html

Quote
STARLINK TRAIN
1 70002U 19999A   19144.94244262 0.00000000  00000-0  00000+0 0    00
2 70002  53.2862 172.0411 0001500  47.9022 312.2115 15.45905383    01

I tried this and the results aren't really making any sense to me.  The earth isn't rotating under the Starlink plane, and the orbit seems to jump around every couple days.  (I realize that they will change orbits over time, but this single TLE won't reflect that, since it's just a single orbit definition.)

I have the same problem CrisC. I have the TLEs but I cant do anything with them. FlightClub.io doesnt do what I want. Its rarely rotating the earth or even showing the location of the sats. There is something wrong with their web page on my computer running Firefox. Then there are various programs. I have Heavens Above but it cant import TLEs. I have Stellarium but it cant import TLEs manually. I tried JSatTrack but I cant figure out how to import TLEs, must be possible somehow but I am just too confused with it. Then there are several star tracer web pages that either dont have the data our dont allow importing TLEs.

I am very happy that someone postet this link: https://celestrak.com/cesium/orbit-viz.php?tle=/NORAD/elements/starlink.txt&satcat=/pub/satcat.txt&orbits=25&pixelSize=3&samplesPerPeriod=90&referenceFrame=1
somewhere here on NSF. It doesnt tell you if your lighting conditions or if the satellites are illuminated at their pass but at least they show the path and earth rotates (if that is correct is a different matter). If you are in the northern hemisphere (like me) you can see pretty much all orbits above your horizon the entire night for the next two month. I would guess that you can see starlink up to 2000km/1300NM. They are at 450km height, this should be enough to be above the horizon.

For my location (Berlin in Germany), I have a pass over tonight at around midnight and they would come from the south-west and pass almost overhead. If the clouds go away by then, I have a chance. Good luck!
Of course, I would not trust the timing of these predictions. Their orbit is usually pretty good but the timing might be wrong by several minutes.

Offline cebri

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #3 on: 05/25/2019 08:12 pm »
Try this site https://www.satflare.com/. Apparently they are going over my house in two hours.
"It's kind of amazing that a window of opportunity is open for life to beyond Earth, and we don't know how long this window is gonna be open" Elon Musk
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Offline ChrisC

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #4 on: 05/25/2019 08:22 pm »
Flight Club
@flightclubio

You can import and plot TLEs in Flight Club without being a Patron! Get out and spot #Starlink tonight in just over 30 minutes!

TLE here: http://www.satobs.org/seesat/May-2019/0193.html
Copy+paste it into here: https://www2.flightclub.io/dashboard

Revised TLE from Marco Langbroek

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/May-2019/0228.html

Quote
STARLINK TRAIN
1 70002U 19999A   19144.94244262 0.00000000  00000-0  00000+0 0    00
2 70002  53.2862 172.0411 0001500  47.9022 312.2115 15.45905383    01

I tried this and the results aren't really making any sense to me.  The earth isn't rotating under the Starlink plane, and the orbit seems to jump around every couple days.  (I realize that they will change orbits over time, but this single TLE won't reflect that, since it's just a single orbit definition.)

Thanks Sessel for the suggestions above.  The Celestrak link was posted in the updates thread:

Not sure how accurate it is but https://celestrak.com/cesium/orbit-viz.php?tle=/NORAD/elements/starlink.txt&satcat=/pub/satcat.txt&orbits=25&pixelSize=3&samplesPerPeriod=90&referenceFrame=1

The great thing about it is that it is pulling the latest TLEs that they've got (well, at least what Celesttrak has) so you don't have to enter in.

As you noted, it doesn't show illumination, but at least the orbits and graphics makes sense, unlike the Flightclub.io system.  I've now used that system to suggest when the Starlink train might be visible for me.

For people in the eastern US, there is a flyby over the Atlantic that goes up the eastern seaboard that MIGHT be visible.  Go outside from 9:07pm to 9:17pm (all times Eastern), find a place that has a good view of the southeastern horizon (no trees), FACE SOUTHEAST, and look for something moving slowly from right to left.  I've heard it described as looking like a faint contrail, so don't expect to see a train of bright spots.

Then later there is another fly OVER the eastern US, but again I don't know if it will be illuminated.  Go outside from 10:45pm to 10:55pm and find a place where you can see as much sky as possible.  LOOK UP and scan the entire sky watching for something moving slowly from southwest to northeast.  As above, I've heard it described as looking like a faint contrail, so don't expect to see a train of bright spots.

Try this site https://www.satflare.com/. Apparently they are going over my house in two hours.

Looks like it requires login.  cebri, are you in Spain?
« Last Edit: 05/25/2019 08:24 pm by ChrisC »
PSA #1: EST does NOT mean "Eastern Time".  Use "Eastern" or "ET" instead, all year round, and avoid this common error.  Google "EST vs EDT".
PSA #2: It's and its: know the difference and quietly impress grammar pedants.  Google "angry flower its" .

Offline cebri

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #5 on: 05/25/2019 08:41 pm »
Try this site https://www.satflare.com/. Apparently they are going over my house in two hours.

Looks like it requires login.  cebri, are you in Spain?

Yes. You can login as a guest, go to the satellite tracker, click on the "change satellite" button and you can enter the TLE data there.
« Last Edit: 05/25/2019 08:58 pm by cebri »
"It's kind of amazing that a window of opportunity is open for life to beyond Earth, and we don't know how long this window is gonna be open" Elon Musk
"If you want to see an endangered species, get up and look in the mirror." John Young

Offline psionedge

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #6 on: 05/25/2019 08:54 pm »

Offline ChrisC

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #7 on: 05/25/2019 09:15 pm »
Just go here: https://www.satflare.com/track.asp?q=starlink#TOP

Indeed, no login required.  It automatically detected my approximate location (from IP address) and it confirms my reading above of the visibility via the Celestrak info.  Thanks!
« Last Edit: 05/25/2019 09:17 pm by ChrisC »
PSA #1: EST does NOT mean "Eastern Time".  Use "Eastern" or "ET" instead, all year round, and avoid this common error.  Google "EST vs EDT".
PSA #2: It's and its: know the difference and quietly impress grammar pedants.  Google "angry flower its" .

Offline Semmel

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #8 on: 05/25/2019 09:19 pm »
Just go here: https://www.satflare.com/track.asp?q=starlink#TOP

That works very well for me. Thank you!

Question: How can we get this kind of information faster next time? It took 2 days for the web sites to catch up with Starlink. This is great, but the most impressive site would be the first orbits after launch. Is there a way to track them, pretty much immediately after launch? They are not military sats, the orbital information is available, the time of launch is known, there must be a way to know their track, at least roughly and maybe not precise timing but all I need is a 10 minutes window and a direction where to look for them.
I never cared much about this kind of fast tracking and maybe there are other threads on NSF that I am not aware of, if so please point them out to me. The massive squirt of satellites makes this special for me. For the record, I would be interested in the same kind of information for OneWeb if they launch ~30 sats at once.

Offline pmonta

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #9 on: 05/25/2019 10:18 pm »
The web site n2yo.com also has Starlink pass predictions for any location, including a 10-day table with visible (Sun-illuminated) passes:

https://n2yo.com/

Offline Semmel

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #10 on: 05/25/2019 10:28 pm »
Just go here: https://www.satflare.com/track.asp?q=starlink#TOP

Just caught them outside. They were 3 minutes past the time the web page predicted (I thought I was too stupid to catch them and almost went inside again). Very beautiful. A bunch of about 40 sats in close formation, a tail of about 10 sats further apart, many in groups of 2 and then occasionally isolated ones. By now, the tail end is much more dispersed than the head of the train and dont form a visual cluster any more. They are around magnitude 2 to 3 I would guess from visual. But because they are so many, they are easy to spot. I had a 8x50 binocular handy for this, but I am not sure that I saw all, I counted below 60 but I didnt give the counting great effort either, more enjoying the view.

Offline cebri

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #11 on: 05/25/2019 10:50 pm »
Argh missed them, my phone's compass was 40 off too :-\.
"It's kind of amazing that a window of opportunity is open for life to beyond Earth, and we don't know how long this window is gonna be open" Elon Musk
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Offline modemeagle

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #12 on: 05/26/2019 01:37 am »
Watched it with my family from North Port Florida at 2112.  The front group is very faint, almost a shadow with a couple singles showing up brightly. They were about 1300 KM away.  We are going to watch it again on 5/27 at 0625 where it should be nearly overhead heading north to south.  Was too dim to even attempt a photograph.
I use www.n2yo.com.

Attached is the track for Monday.

Offline RocketLover0119

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #13 on: 05/26/2019 01:47 am »
Confused, am in Tampa Florida, went out to try and watch but saw nothing, go to a tracker and see I missed it.

what tracker is best?

EDIT: check the above tracker and seems good, just confused on how I missed it, looked where the tracker said it would be and saw nothing, even with glasses  ???
« Last Edit: 05/26/2019 01:50 am by RocketLover0119 »
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Offline DigitalMan

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #14 on: 05/26/2019 01:50 am »
Confused, am in Tampa florida, went out to try and watch but saw nothing, go to a tracker and see i missed it.

what tracker is best?

I took a look earlier and I think the two strings of satellites would pass around 10:30 and 10:50 or so.

Offline John Alan

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #15 on: 05/26/2019 01:50 am »
Looks like a pass over eastern USA in about an hour...  FYI
Will take a look and edit this post if I see much...  ;)

On later edit..
Clouded up about dark... nothing to be seen from here...  :(
There will be other launches... other clusters... No big deal...  8)
« Last Edit: 05/26/2019 03:04 am by John Alan »

Offline modemeagle

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #16 on: 05/26/2019 02:09 am »
Confused, am in Tampa Florida, went out to try and watch but saw nothing, go to a tracker and see I missed it.

what tracker is best?

EDIT: check the above tracker and seems good, just confused on how I missed it, looked where the tracker said it would be and saw nothing, even with glasses  ???
I only saw it for about 2 minutes so it was very fast and low on the horizon (25 degrees up or so).  Monday morning should be a great view for Florida and the mid west.

Offline Herb Schaltegger

Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #17 on: 05/26/2019 02:09 am »
For you folks new to satellite spotting and tracking, keep the following points in mind. First, and this is perhaps the most important: pretty much all the commercially-available and public sat-spotting sites rely on the same sets of tracking data (commonly referred to as TLEs - Two-Line Elements - because that's the format they're usually presented in). TLEs are generated regularly by the U.S. Space Command and made available through a web interface based on their own activities tracking objects in Earth orbit. However, and this is the second point: the data is only as good as how recent it is, and how accurate it is. In other words, sometimes the data is incorrect. Sometimes it's outdated.

So for objects like this new constellation, especially so soon after launch, the sats will be maneuvering periodically throughout the coming days until the reach their final orbits. However, tracking by Space Command is *not* typically real-time. It's based on Space Command's own schedule of surveillance via optical, radar and whatever other methods they integrate into their tracking models. So it's likely that TLEs could well be obsolete and inaccurate by the time they're compiled and published by Space Command due to maneuvers made in the interim.

Obviously SpaceX's own team of controllers knows exactly where each of their birds is - they may or may not be sharing this data in real-time with Space Command, or via a periodic schedule. But I can pretty much guarantee you SpaceX is *not* sharing this data directly with those various sat-tracking and -spotting sites on the web.

So ... tl;dr: none of the sites will be anything close to perfect with this new constellation until it's fully on-station in the days or weeks to come. And that's only for this first tiny fraction of the whole.
« Last Edit: 05/26/2019 12:35 pm by Herb Schaltegger »
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Offline Llian Rhydderch

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #18 on: 05/26/2019 02:48 am »
TL;DR That's not quite right, Herb.  In this case, most of the websites being mentioned here in this thread are using the latest TLE calculated by the SeeSat folk, based on the accurate data Dr. Marco L in The Netherlands got about 27 hours ago over the Netherlands.  Some sites are using those TLEs; others, such a Satflare, allow one to input their own (most recent TLEs).

A bit more

The amateur skywatchers who report on SeeSat are no mere pikers. They are the expert amateurs who find the mil sats that Russia, China and the US don't report, and the US in particular skips data, or obfuscates data on, in the main NORAD space object database.  Dr Marco Langbroek, who captured the really excellent long video of the satellite train yesterday and is @Marco_Langbroek on Twitter, is a SeeSat expert himself.  The SeeSat team is often the ones to find the earliest/initial TLEs on many launches, not unusually, before NORAD reports in the public_but_sometimes_obfuscated government sat datasets.

So it's not quite as simple as these sats just launched, they're all maneuvering and changing orbits, and all of them are reporting the same TLEs from the same datasets from the gvmt sources.  Good initial TLEs can, and often do, exist in this uncertain environment after a new launche.  Cheers.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Starlink : Satellite Spotting
« Reply #19 on: 05/26/2019 02:54 am »
I looked twice. Didn't see them either time, even though I looked in the right spot. I need a darker sky, I guess.

...I guess there goes the "oh no, it'll pollute the nightsky" argument.
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Tags: Starlink satellites 
 

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