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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday February 23 2020, @05:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-it-works-is-up-in-the-air dept.

How Does Starlink Work Anyway?:

No matter what you think of Elon Musk, it's hard to deny that he takes the dictum "There's no such thing as bad publicity" to heart. From hurling sports cars into orbit to solar-powered roof destroyers, there's little that Mr. Musk can't turn into a net positive for at least one of his many ventures, not to mention his image.

Elon may have gotten in over his head, though. His plan to use his SpaceX rockets to fill the sky with thousands of satellites dedicated to providing cheap Internet access ran afoul of the astronomy community, which has decried the impact of the Starlink satellites on observations, both in the optical wavelengths and further down the spectrum in the radio bands. And that's with only a tiny fraction of the planned constellation deployed; once fully built-out, they fear Starlink will ruin Earth-based observation forever.

What exactly the final Starlink constellation will look like and what impact it would have on observations depend greatly on the degree to which it can withstand regulatory efforts and market forces. Assuming it does survive and gets built out into a system that more or less resembles the current plan, what exactly will Starlink do? And more importantly, how will it accomplish its stated goals?

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @06:36PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @06:36PM (#961489)

    My wife freaked out when she saw a string of them going across the twilight sky in San Diego. She thought Russia launched nukes this way.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FatPhil on Sunday February 23 2020, @10:39PM (4 children)

    by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Sunday February 23 2020, @10:39PM (#961598) Homepage
    How long did it take to transit? What's its apparent magnitude?

    Tonight, in a part of the world where even seeing Sirius is a rarity (yes, a European capital city), there was this bright spot just hanging there, even brighter than the planes that had just taken off, all alone and placid. I pointed it out to my g/f, she had no explanation either. We went to the pub for a couple of beers, but when we returned it had passed.

    If it was starlink, I'm not sure how I feel about this. I shan't make up my mind until I know what the real facts are about what I saw, no point tilting at space windmills.
    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @10:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @10:56PM (#961609)

      At just after twilight their magnitude was almost as bright as Venus, fading slowly as they crossed overhead.
      How to find Starlink satellites with Stellarium... []

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24 2020, @02:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24 2020, @02:23AM (#961673)

      That was almost definitely not a Starlink. Here [] is a link where you can sign up to SpotTheStation - it's for the ISS. The ISS is flying quite a lot higher than the Starlinks and so its perceived velocity would be lower. It's also about the size of a football field rather than a whatever the StarLink sats are - probably a square meter or two, if that?

      The point of this is that it should be way brighter, and way slower than a Starlink - and it's *definitely* not what you'd call a "bright spot just hanging there." Maybe a Chinese lantern? As they reach higher altitudes they start to seem to stand still until they gradually fade from distance (or burn out) and could look somewhat similar to what you're describing, especially if it had an orangish glow.

    • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Monday February 24 2020, @10:24AM (1 child)

      by Common Joe (33) <reversethis-{moc ... 1010.eoj.nommoc}> on Monday February 24 2020, @10:24AM (#961770) Journal

      I'm not the grandparent AC, but I saw them between Christmas and New Years. I don't know the exact magnitude, but in my part of the world, they were as bright as planets. They sailed across the sky as large dots of light -- in a row, one after another. Each one stayed visible for about 90 to 120 seconds, appearing at an approximate similar point and disappearing at another approximate point. They traversed about half the sky. I saw about 3 to 5 at them at any one time. I watched for about 10 minutes before I had to leave.

      It was only the next morning when I looked up specific satellites that I figured out exactly what I had seen. I knew I had seen satellites (the spacing between each dot of light was very regular and the speed was exactly the same between each), but I didn't know which ones.

      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday February 24 2020, @12:20PM

        by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Monday February 24 2020, @12:20PM (#961791) Homepage
        I think when they were ducklings in a line they hadn't reached anywhere near their final orbit yet, but their orbital radius, even if they're doubling altitude, won't change massively. However, that minute ballpark is a useful datapoint. The spot I saw really didn't seem to be moving, so it looks like it wasn't one of them. Musta been a UFO! I'll keep my eyes peeled, it looks like it will be a clear sky tonight.
        Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves