SAN ANGELO, Texas — Some speculation is being generated about just what effect 12,000 SpaceX satellites will have on the night sky. CEO Elon Musk says not to worry:
There are already 4900 satellites in orbit, which people notice ~0% of the time. Starlink won’t be seen by anyone unless looking very carefully & will have ~0% impact on advancements in astronomy. We need to move telelscopes to orbit anyway. Atmospheric attenuation is terrible. pic.twitter.com/OuWYfNmw0D — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 27, 2019
The first 60 satellites were launched Thursday, May 26, 2019, with each satellite equipped with Krypton ion thrusters to raise them to their final orbit 342 miles above the surface of the earth. The satellites’ brightness is concerning to some, as they can readily be seen with low-powered binoculars and even with the naked eye as they circle the earth on their way to their final orbit. Here’s one view from Chicago as the satellites flew overhead:
A bit noisy video, but an amazing sight. Here are the 60 @SpaceX-built #starlink satellites flying over Chicago, Illinois tonight (May 26, 2019) at 9:05 PM central time. (2:05 UTC May 27, 2019) @elonmusk
I will note, things are really dim and hard to see if you are not looking. pic.twitter.com/uPVzbeDL6x — 📸Trevor Mahlmann (@TrevorMahlmann) May 27, 2019
The satellites will cross almost overhead, a little to the west from the San Angelo vantage point tonight, starting about 9:00 p.m. Be sure to look up, the show won’t last long!
UPDATE: After debate, @ElonMusk says he’s asked @SpaceX #Starlink team to minimize satellites’ impact on key astronomical observations: https://t.co/ZnwOUvJCPz (Pic: @Marco_Langbroek) pic.twitter.com/NRpH5fhEc6 — Alan Boyle (@b0yle) May 27, 2019