If you were outside on Wednesday evening and saw what appeared to be a line of bright stars in the sky, you were not alone. Speculation in a private Facebook group called Stanislaus News suggested that Modesto residents might be witnessing a Starlink satellite from Elon Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX. An online tracking system supports this idea.
Starlink is described as the “world’s first and largest satellite constellation” that provides global broadband internet using a low-Earth orbit. The system operates over 300 miles above the Earth’s surface. However, spotting Starlink satellites is not always possible. Even if they pass over your location, various factors must align for them to reflect enough sunlight to be seen.
For those who missed the sighting on Wednesday, there will be more opportunities in the upcoming days when the satellites will be bright enough to be visible.
To determine when Starlink will be visible in the Central Valley, you can use the independently operated Starlink tracking system available online or as a downloadable app for iPhone and Android. It’s worth noting that the predicted times may not be completely accurate due to the frequent orbital changes of the satellites. Actual viewing times can vary by up to 10 minutes.
SpaceX recently launched the Starlink Group 6-27 using its Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday night. The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida around 8 p.m. On Wednesday, at approximately 5:50 p.m., the satellites were visible in Modesto for around four minutes.
For residents in Modesto, Manteca, Oakdale, Turlock, Merced, and Fresno, here are the upcoming viewing opportunities with good visibility. The sightings typically last between four to five minutes:
– Modesto, Manteca, Oakdale: Thursday at 5:55 p.m., looking from west to northeast. Friday at 5:57 p.m., looking from west to northeast.
– Turlock and Merced: Thursday at 5:55 p.m., looking from west to northeast.
– Fresno: Thursday at 5:55 p.m., looking from west to north.
For other Central Valley residents, you can find out when Starlink will be visible in your area by entering your location on the tracking system website.
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