On November 8, 2023, at 17:50, there will be a bright pass of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. These satellites are part of a constellation system aimed at providing global internet coverage. It is particularly useful for rural and geographically isolated areas where internet connectivity is unreliable or nonexistent. SpaceX, the owner of the system, is working towards creating a global broadband network using a constellation of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to provide high-speed internet services.
The pass tonight will be visible from southwest to east, so make sure to use the compass on your smartphone to position yourself. The pass will last approximately 5 minutes, but it is advised to get into position a bit earlier. You can download the pass guides and maps for your city, and if the pass is not yet listed, try checking later in the day.
To find out where and when the Starlink satellites will be visible in your city, you can visit the Heavens-Above website. Select your city at the top right corner and then choose “Starlink Passes” from the menu. The website provides downloadable maps with the date and time of the passes. You can also discover the passes of other satellites and the International Space Station (ISS) using this site.
While the sight of the Starlink satellites passing overhead can be awe-inspiring, it is important to note that they contribute to light pollution. Their brightness, even when not visible to the naked eye, poses a significant challenge for both professional and amateur scientific research. The increasing number of satellites in low Earth orbit also raises concerns about potential collisions and the cascade effect, known as the Kessler syndrome, which could render these valuable orbits useless.
For more information on the impact of Starlink on the night sky and the issue of satellite pollution, you can refer to the report provided by the Dark and Quiet Skies Working Group of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).