April 26, 2020 – Washington Co., WI – Quick update. A lot of response on people interested in tonight’s viewing of the Starlink Satellite Train. Well heads up… the timeline just changed and the train will be crossing the night sky earlier than first expected.
People would be best to start watching at 8:51 p.m. just in case.
On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket into space that released the 7th group of 60 satellites into low earth orbit as part of a satellite constellation that will allow internet access to everyone everywhere on Earth. Being only four days past the launch, the satellites are all extremely close together in relation to each other and will be able to be viewed as a tight line of satellites all in orbit on the same line.
THIS WILL BE A VERY RARE SIGHT TONIGHT, as not only will they slowly spread out from each other over time, but Elon Musk will soon be adjusting the angles of the solar panels and adding a “sunshade” to help reduce the reflection of the sun back to earth, making them harder to view in the near future, so TONIGHT is a great time to see such a rare astronomical event.
HOW TO VIEW: The StarLink satellite train will follow a path much like the YELLOW LINE in the radar pic, depending on where you are at in the Midwest. Any times, elevations, or trajectories are based on a West Bend, WI location, and other locations in the Midwest will be slightly different, but not much. The satellite train will start out low on the horizon in the Western sky near the waxing crescent moon and Venus (our brightest object in the sky besides the moon), and will start sometime around 8:51 p.m. central. It’ll rise to a max elevation of about 39.5° (see diagram in pic 4) when it is closest to us to the Southwest where the yellow dot is on the yellow line in the radar pic 2. The satellite train will fade away into the southern sky.
There may be many satellites to view after the main satellite train goes by, as they slowly are spread out over time, so that’s why viewing them now is a great time to see them. All of the satellites from this latest launch will be following the same line, so keep watching for more after the main satellite train goes by.
The trailing satellite of this 7th group (StarLink 6) is set to go past by 9 pm. central, so that should be the latest you’ll be able to see the satellites in the sky.
Make sure you AT LEAST have a good view with no trees to your Southwest sky, as that will be when it’ll be the closest, brightest, and highest in the sky to us, but also make sure there are no trees to the west or south to see the whole path. Also, to see the satellite train at its brightest, you can darken the skies by getting away from light pollution by driving out into the country and away from cities and lights. You will be able to see this tonight with the naked eye, and videos and photos will most likely be able to be captured.
CLICK ON THIS LINK TO LIVE GPS TRACK THE STARLINK SATELLITE TRAIN:
Otherwise, I also use a satellite tracker app called ISS Detector by RunaR, but I paid a few dollars to get the ISS Detector “PRO” app which can actually track “famous objects,” and you can live GPS track the StarLink leading and trailing satellites of each launch. You would have to pay for the PRO app to track it. This may get confusing, but it’s the basics on how you have to set up the PRO app to get the StarLink 6 satellite data:
First, set your location. Then go to the filters in the top right-hand corner that looks like 3 lines getting smaller, make sure the “famous objects” option is on, change the satellites “StarLink 6 Leader” and “StarLink 6 Trailer” to “visible”, and set the minimum elevation, threshold magnitude, and minimum quality all to “ALL”, and then back out using the top left arrow back. It’ll recalculate and you will be able to get all of the accurate info like in pics 2 and 3.
This is a rare celestial sight that could be amazing and memorable to the many who haven’t seen a StarLink satellite train yet. The weather should be very favorable tonight in the Midwest. You can’t always be notified of when it’ll happen, and many times the weather won’t allow you to see it as it passes over our area.
Photo courtesy YouTube