While these satellites for space-based internet are considered the vermin of the sky as they will potentially ruin the night sky for amateur stargazers and professional observatories who spend billions on equipment to peer out into the cosmos, we have to admit they are a stunning sight soon after launch! Dozens of them are launched on one rocket into a low orbit and then weak (but cheap) rocket motors slowly raise them into a higher orbit over several weeks.
In our experience for about a week after launch they are very close together and bright enough to be easily seen with the naked eye (about as bright as the North Star or the stars of “The Plough” if you know that star pattern).
We issue predictions of the times to see this ‘train’ of Starlink satellites from Ireland on our social media (see links below) whenever they are visible from Ireland (not all launches are visible from Ireland so leave it to us to keep an eye on them and alert you).
If you do spot them we ask that you email our magazine team of volunteers so they can report your sighting to all the beginners around Ireland who read it every month:
The Starlink satellites are part of a ‘constellation’ (huge fleet) launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX that could see up to 100,000 such satellites from SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and other businesses who want to provide high speed internet access to the world from space and generate a 40 billion dollar revenue a year. Such a high-worth business will be hard to stop so many of us worry that space is going to be polluted like we have with plastic in our oceans. If Astronomy Ireland can do anything to stop this we will, and there are other groups around the world very concerned about this also.
In the meantime we have to enjoy the stunning sight of our universe being polluted – albeit spectacularly!
Do join Astronomy Ireland, we are always looking for beginners to join the society which is non-profit and mostly run by volunteers which keeps the cost down to a paltry euro a week – and who cannot afford that for the best hobby in the universe!
Please urge all your friends and family to join Astronomy Ireland also using the easy to remember link above – there are thousands of us all over Ireland at present making us the most popular astronomy society in the world!