A fleet of SpaceX Starlink satellites will once again be visible in the sky over the UK this week, offering sky observers the chance to witness a chain of up to 60 microsatellites passing overhead.
Favorable conditions mean they will be easy to spot with the naked eye Tuesday evening and Thursday evening, despite the launch aboard the Falcon 9 rocket last month.
The best times to view Starlink satellites from the UK will be at 10.59 p.m. on May 12 and at 10:36 p.m. on May 14. Satellites can also be tracked in real time via the Find Starlink website.
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They are part of Elon Musk’s project to provide a satellite Internet connection and will eventually be part of a constellation of 12,000 satellites.
Previous occasions where Starlink satellites have appeared have resulted in a spike in UFO reports due to their unusual training.
Astronomers have compared their appearance to that of a “shiny pearl necklace” in the sky, although some have criticized them for potentially disturbing the sightings.
Last year, the Starlink project was described as a “tragedy” by Dave Clements, an astrophysicist at Imperial College London. He warned that the presence of large constellations of satellites could interrupt radio frequencies and disturb the images of optical telescopes, which could cloud observations of Earth-linked asteroids.
SpaceX said it is working with space agencies to minimize any potential impact from the Starlink satellites, while taking a number of its own steps to reduce their visibility.
After the launch in April, CEO Elon Musk said he was working on a solution to hide the satellites from ground observers.
“We are fixing it now,” he tweeted. “We are taking key steps to reduce the brightness of the satellites. This should be much less visible during the elevation of the orbit by changing the angle of the solar panel and all satellites get umbrellas from the launch. “
Asked about potential interference from Starlink satellites at a recent conference, he said the concerns were exaggerated.
“I am convinced that we will have no impact on astronomical discoveries, zero. That’s my prediction, “he said at the Satellite 2020 conference in January.
“We will take corrective action if it is greater than zero. I haven’t met anyone who can tell me where they are all, so it can’t be that bad. “