Video: SpaceX Starlink Satellites Passing Over The Netherlands

Video Caption: Less than 24 hours after SpaceX’s launch of the first 60 Starlink satellites, amateur astronomer Dr. Marco Langbroek (sattrackcam.blogspot.com) captured them streaking over the Netherlands.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Beautiful sight.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    The astronomy community is up in arms (again) over this. Just like Peter Beck’s short-lived reflective satellite and just like the Tesla/Starman payload.

  • savuporo

    Given Musk’s clueless comments on twitter on the topic of visibility, should anyone be surprised that they didnt think this through ?

  • Not Invented Here

    Why do they need to think this through? Visibility is not a requirement for satellite’s function, nor is it a regulatory requirement. Did any country/company think about visibility when launching their satellite or space station? The answer is NO. So why should SpaceX think about this?

  • Not Invented Here

    A few loud mouth on twitter (plus an known anti-SpaceX bigot from JPL) can hardly represent the “The astronomy community”….

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    They can shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. Yes that is a pun on the topic at hand.

  • savuporo

    We manage electromagnetic spectrum through a set of established agreements and treaties, with ITU being the UN body that ultimately coordinates. Visible spectrum is spectrum like any other

  • Terry Stetler

    All Starlinks will operate much higher than they are now, which will cause them to dim significantly. See inverse square law. So will their solar arrays turning away from Earth.

  • redneck

    Also, it’s only noticeable at dawn and dusk, not the most opportune times for astronomy.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes!

  • ThomasLMatula

    Guess the ITU dropped the ball on this…

  • TheBrett

    Nope. That could be bigger trouble than you might think, too, since I strongly suspect that they’re counting on deals to sell bandwidth to ISPs and telecom companies for revenue rather than end-users directly (the phased array downlink is still quite expensive – optimistic cost reductions I’ve read would still put it at around $300 each, not counting whatever SpaceX charges for the service).

    And those satellites won’t be messing just with the night sky and astronomy in the US. If a bunch of other governments respond to complaints by banning their ISPs from cutting deals with StarLink for bandwidth unless SpaceX drastically reduces the visibility of the satellites (and keeps them out of the path of major ground telescopes), the whole enterprise could be in serious trouble.

  • Not Invented Here

    That is because EM spectrum is a valuable and vital resource for modern communication infrastructure, visible spectrum is not, thus nobody bother to manage it.

    And why are you so worried about visible spectrum just when SpaceX is launching their satellite? Where are you when OneWeb is launching their satellites? Or when China and Russia proposing to send up big reflective mirrors to light up the night sky?

  • Not Invented Here

    LOL, good luck finding a legal basis for the ban. By the same token I can ask night time airline flights and city lights to be banned too, plus any satellite or space station launched by any other country.

    Also the latest observation shows the satellites are already dimming and also less noticeable as they fan out, I bet by the time they settled into their proper orbit, the regular people would no longer notice them and forgot about this whole thing ever happened.

  • TheBrett

    Countries actually can restrict use of their airspace and require lighting to be minimal in places (see “dark sky reserves”). They might not be able to stop the satellites from going ahead (although they could certainly pressure the US government to push back on SpaceX’s schedule), but they could effectively ban SpaceX from offering satellite internet in their territory by barring any ISPs from cutting deals with them for bandwidth (as well as the sale of any phased-array downlink sets necessary to receive the signal).

    Also the latest observation shows the satellites are already dimming and
    also less noticeable as they fan out, I bet by the time they settled
    into their proper orbit, the regular people would no longer notice them
    and forgot about this whole thing ever happened.

    We’ll see. I trust the astronomers more about the scale and impact of light pollution, especially as more of these get put up.

  • Not Invented Here

    About half the so called “dark sky reserves” is in the US, and the US already approved Starlink, so I don’t see why this would be a problem for other countries.

    Astronomers are a separate issue, you’re confusing impact to astronomy with impact with naked eye star gazing, two totally different issues. The former will be impacted, but the affected people is a very small minority of the general population, I don’t see astronomers in any country powerful enough to lobby a ban on Starlink (unless the country already wants to ban it due to political reasons, aka Russia and China). And there’re technical methods that can reduce the impact, which goes well beyond any simply politics or bans.

    The latter will potentially have more popular support, but as I said, the impact to naked eye star gazing is probably not noticeable after the satellites settled into their orbit. As long as they’re not super noticeable under city light (where the majority of the population lives), I doubt anybody is going to raise a fuss about this.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Sorry, but the majority of countries are going to value economical high speed Internet access over astronomical research. The first produces wealth and revenue from taxation of it. Astronomy by contrast is just a cost center to governments which produces limited revenue. In terms of law, the OST makes the U.S. government the only liable party for licensing it, but it also only allows issues to be resolved by negotiations.

  • ThomasLMatula

    More likely they will ban their ISPs from using Starlink because it may be more difficult to bully SpaceX into supporting censorship than Google.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Astronomers need to learn they don’t own space. What are they going to do about SBSP or cities lighting up the lunar surface? Or when mining firms start breaking up asteroids named in honor of some scientist or other individual? It’s irrational to let a bunch of carbon and water go to waste just because someone named it after Dr. Fred Whipple.

  • Tom Billings

    “And why are you so worried about visible spectrum just when SpaceX is launching their satellite?”

    The same reason he’s worried when SpaceX does anything. A vague and general fear that someone not associated with NASA may hone in on their turf.

  • Terry Stetler

    Followup: the move 440km to 550km should dim them by about 36%, all else being equal.

  • Robert G. Oler

    If they can pull it off for 300 USD that would be well amazing.

    a different world of course but for the last six months a company of mine that is purely experimental has been working with 1 university and some USAF money (and Iridium money) to develop a “low cost” terminal which has constant high data rates using “directional antennas” switched by the Iridium signal.

    for about 800 USD or 1200 USD we can build and deploy either a dual planer array that tracks “two” at a time of the constellation and switches when the internal signal says “switch” or the higher price is for very directional helix which up the data rate “a lot”.. the helix require far more precise tracking but the data rates are well quite higher. when the winter comes in the NOrthern hemisphere we will take 1 of the systems down to the south pole…one right now is doing a workout on Wake and a USCG ship…so far so good

    we would love to put one on ISS 🙂

  • ThomasLMatula

    Something to remember. If these satellites pass their tests they will launch around 4-6 batches this year meaning another 4-6 viewing opportunities. And many more opportunities afterward for years into the future, And let’s not forget that this string will be dwarfed by what a Starship will deploy. Yes, Elon Musk makes spaceflight very interesting.

  • Saturn1300

    Need to get 5 min or so apart to have continuous coverage. Or go broad cast TV and spread out and use buffer. If I can get cheap, I don’t mind a little delay. Millions of $ there Elon just waiting for you. You can get the stream from just about everyone and re broadcast it. Streaming looks as good as cable to me. Even though Win10 did not want me too, I installed Chrome and got really good streaming(unlike Win Edge). 400 kbs DSL download. $105. Win10 32 bit. 4 core, 2gig ram. 64 bit laptop. RCA. The magnetic dock is bad. Looks like HD TV on ESPN3.

  • Saturn1300

    Yep. But they are more worried about the RF interference I read. Need bigger space telescope, so above it. Webb too small. They use long exposure. So go by so fast, may not show up. They can use software to remove maybe. Stacking. 1000 snap shots. RF is all the time. Of course Internet by Musk has priority over Astronomy. LOL.

  • duheagle

    You do realize, I hope, that this neat bit of video was taken through a telescope?

    Objects in the Cassegrain mirror are smaller than they appear.

  • duheagle

    It’s not exactly a new thing that astronomers have to allow for satellite transits of their viewing fields. That’s been going on since 1957.

    Nor, frankly, have astronomers got enough influence to jam up Starlink.

    Some of Starlink’s capacity will certainly be sold to large users – among which the U.S. DoD is likely to be the largest. But the idea that Starlink will be too expensive for ordinary consumers seems a stretch.

    First, the Starlink infrastructure will have the lowest cost per deliverable unit of bandwidth of any of the proposed LEO comsat constellations – an advantage that may amount to an entire order of magnitude in some cases.

    Second, the constellations with more expensive infrastructures will be especially incentivized to seek the lowest-cost possible suppliers of ground antennas, or to develop such themselves. In the latter case – and making the unlikely assumption SpaceX can’t develop something equivalent on their own – that would give these outfits something to sell to SpaceX, especially in the event the guys with pricier infrastructures have trouble competing on price of service.

  • duheagle

    Countries can already restrict what their citizens can legally purchase. Many do. The most retrograde regimes aren’t going to be potential markets for any of these constellation companies unless said firms agree to things like prior censorship and not doing in-space routing that would invalidate their “Great Firewalls.” That’s the nature of OneWeb’s deals with Russia and China, for example. That simply serves to cement the fates of such places to being backmarkers in the upcoming world of LEOsat broadband Internet.

  • duheagle

    Whiners and wankers.

  • delphinus100

    Indeed. Given that they shine only by reflected light, sats are only visible for a period when the observer is in twilight or darkness, and the satellite is not in Earth’s shadow (though that period is longer at higher orbits).

    We know this from the other end. Astronauts have reported just how bloody dark it is during ISS (itself the biggest, brightest sat) EVAs when above Earth’s night side. It’s one of the (few) details the movie ‘Gravity’ got right…

    http://www.radiolab.org/story/242184-dark-side-earth/

  • delphinus100

    Not really. I don’t think they presume to regulate spectrum below 9khz or above 300Ghz…

  • ThomasLMatula

    SpaceX business is doing the amazing, it’s why folks are cheering Elon Musk on.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    I agree with you, Professor Matula. The loudest astronomy, astrophysics, and planetary science voices on Twitter are Marxist academics who think they and their jackboot government should be the only ones allowed to do anything with space. They think anybody who attempts to make money via space is a white male privileged neo-Colonial capitalist deplorable who only worships the almighty dollar and Elon Musk is war criminal #1.