Satellites or Planes?

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Reported by edhat readers

  • Wednesday night about 6pm my wife and I saw a series of at least 20 fairly fast moving objects in the sky. They appeared to be about the same size as Venus and were moving in a southwest to northeast direction. Evenly spaced and following one another like a train. We assumed that they were a series of satellites. Does anyone have better information?

  • We watched a long line of jets or something in the sky at about 6:00 p.m. tonight. Maybe 30 or 40 in perfect single file.  They were moving rapidly across the sky to the east until they reached a certain point where they vanished. Anybody else see it?


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a-1607021648 Dec 03, 2020 10:54 AM
Satellites or Planes?

Flightradar shows two CL60 jets flying next to each other at that time, assuming they're private planes.

John Wiley Dec 03, 2020 11:54 AM
Satellites or Planes?

"On Tuesday, November 24 at 9:13 p.m. EST, SpaceX launched its sixteenth Starlink mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. ..."

"SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink satellites on 100th Falcon 9 flight"

pstarSR Dec 03, 2020 12:49 PM
Satellites or Planes?

if it was a "train" non blinking lights, its very probably its the starlink sats they just launched. even the ones that are already up there will also look similar. john wiley is correct I imagine

STROBE Dec 03, 2020 02:36 PM
Satellites or Planes?

It was the Starlink satellites. They are supposed to be visible again tonight.

ginger1 Dec 03, 2020 03:37 PM
Satellites or Planes?

If we can see the StarLink satellites perhaps it wont be long before we can have Cox-free internet! Yay! I understand that folks in Canada are getting first crack at it beginning this week. Supposed to be April-ish for us.

a-1607056114 Dec 03, 2020 08:28 PM
Satellites or Planes?

It sure will be nice having a ubiquitous competitor to existing ISPs. On the other hand: "How much will Starlink internet cost? $99 a month, plus $499 for the antenna and router." SpaceX has "preliminary plans for an even larger fleet of 30,000 additional Starlink satellites, but a network of that size has not been authorized by the FCC." At that point, will our night sky be a scurrying nest of white ants run amok in the Milky Way? Will we be able to power our phones with the stray EMF from all the space data and radar coming at us and bouncing around with the high-power terrestrial 5G signals? Maybe nobody cares but us old folks who remember sighing at the silent flash of a falling "star" in the deep dark of a serene night sky.

macpuzl Dec 03, 2020 08:52 PM
Satellites or Planes?

In addition to the visual blight, these vast constellations of satellites will hamper our large scientific survey telescopes, which are also tasked with detecting potentially hazardous asteroids. If there is a satellite collision, the resulting clouds of debris are likely to cause a runaway chain reaction of collisions that will destroy satellites within wide altitude ranges, and effectively shut us out from launching anything safely.

Google Kessler Syndrome.

Happy2BeSB Dec 04, 2020 08:29 AM
Satellites or Planes?

SpaceX have already been launching their new satellites that no longer reflect sunlight down to earth. Once this group reaches nominal optimal orbit, you won't see them. They also have thrusters allowing them to avoid satellites and other space debris. And once they reach end of life, they use the thruster to de-orbit and burn completely up in the atmosphere.

a-1607108236 Dec 04, 2020 10:57 AM
Satellites or Planes?

Nothing "completely" burns up in the atmosphere. SpaceX is polluting the sky and near earth space for profit and is not setting a penny aside to pay for cleanup and damages. This is the model for these pirates.

Happy2BeSB Dec 04, 2020 11:43 AM
Satellites or Planes?

Starlink will finally enable rural communities to have inexpensive broadband internet. It levels the playing field for schools and other people who high bandwidth to learn and innovate.

What evidence do you have that Starlink sats burning up in the atmosphere is any worse than exhaust from planes and other fossil fuel-powered transportation and energy production?

macpuzl Dec 04, 2020 01:29 PM
Satellites or Planes?

Happy - You are mistaken about the StarLink satellites with the new "dark mode". They were painted to make them less reflective, but it proved to be insufficient to mitigate their interference with scientific sky surveys. And it does nothing to mitigate their collision hazard.

Happy2BeSB Dec 04, 2020 10:37 PM
Satellites or Planes?

Macpulz, SpaceX has been launching new VisorSats since May with deployable shades to handle earthbound reflections. They're also using roll maneuvers to put the solar panel in line with the sun so they don't reflect when increasing their altitudes to their intended orbit. And observatories and SpaceX engineers have been working together to improve the sky for telescopes.

Also, SpaceX is designing a version of Starship that they plan to use to clean up space junk, everyone's junk, not just theirs. Other companies are also planning their own LEO satellite constellations, so it's good that SpaceX is setting a high standard to help terrestrial telescopes.

Ultimately, space-based telescopes will outperform terrestrial scopes. SpaceX is lowering launch costs to the point where space telescopes are becoming feasible, especially once Starship is operational in a couple years.

macpuzl Dec 05, 2020 01:48 PM
Satellites or Planes?

Happy - Nice PR piece, but the efforts by SpaceX to reduce reflectivity are a total afterthought, and are insufficient to eliminate their interference with the survey telescopes. Musk doesn't care, and has opined that all astronomical observing should be done from space. Just a bit self-serving. He's done good things with bringing down the costs of access to space and promoting electric vehicles, but he has plenty of warts.

Happy2BeSB Dec 05, 2020 11:16 PM
Satellites or Planes?

Macpulz, I feel for the scientists and their research if it may be hampered for a decade or two. But small towns and villages in developing nations effectively cut off from the rest of the world without broadband could care less about space research. They want to join the world economy and enjoy the same information and commerce advantages available in more developed areas. With Starlink, a battery and a few solar panels, they can more fully participate in the world for relatively little cost.

First world Starlink customers (think of cross-Atlantic high-frequency stock traders) will subsidize much of that cost. Those profits support rapid development of Starship, enabling space telescopes much sooner and cheaper than anyone imagined. In the long run, astronomy advances will accelerate and innovation will come from new parts of the world. Overall, a net positive for humanity.

patrick Dec 03, 2020 04:22 PM
Satellites or Planes?

We saw them. Definitely satellites. They faded from view after they passed overhead, when they no longer reflected the just set sun. Kind of interesting to see, but if this becomes more common, it will ruin the naturalness of the night sky. Shortly after they went by, we saw two other satellites on different orbit paths.

ZeroHawk Dec 03, 2020 04:40 PM
Satellites or Planes?

starlink satellites...there are a LOT of them and they are smaller....sadly our orbit is a dangerous highway of junk and debris and too many orbiters now. night sky is polluted. i saw maybe 6 or 7 the other evening.

Cabomark Dec 04, 2020 06:50 AM
Satellites or Planes?

StarLink satellites ....... Tonite at 6:08pm they will make another pass goin from the SW to NE. (Santa Rosa Island toward La Cumbre Peak)

Happy2BeSB Dec 04, 2020 12:00 PM
Satellites or Planes?

For those concerned about de-orbiting satellites, here's an informative assessment of Starlink's design:

tl;dr Starlink sats "no longer contain dense metallic components that could survive reentry and endanger people on the ground." Anything that might survive is not particularly toxic. Organic compounds will get broken up by the high UV radiation. Copper oxides and some silicon dust might survive, but the amounts are trivial when considering the 100+ tons of comet/asteroid material that burn up in our atmosphere every day.

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