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SpaceX's new array of Starlink communication satellites has even the most jaded of satellite observers agog with excitement as they move across the sky.
On Thursday evening (May 23), SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites into orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellites are in good health and are the first of a planned 12,000-satellite megaconstellation to provide internet access to people on Earth.
Satellites - Miles - Km - Earth - Show
The satellites, which are now orbiting at approximately 273 miles (440 km) above the Earth, are putting on a spectacular show for ground observers as they move across the night sky.
Related: SpaceX's 1st Starlink Megaconstellation Launch in Photos!
Train - SpaceX - Starlink - Satellites - Night
A train of SpaceX Starlink satellites are visible in the night sky in this still from a video captured by satellite tracker Marco Langbroek in Leiden, the Netherlands on May 24, 2019, just one day after SpaceX launched 60 of the Starlink internet communications satellites into orbit.
To the eye, the 60 satellites appear as a "moving train" of moderately faint stars … generally in the magnitude +4 to +5 range, although some observers have reported that a few of the satellites in the train have appeared brighter than this. A magnitude of +6 is generally considered to be the threshold of naked eye visibility under a dark, clear sky.
Satellites - Line - Degrees - Length - Arm
Initially, the satellites were seen to be stretched out in a straight line measuring roughly 5 to 8 degrees in apparent length. Your clenched fist held at arm's length is roughly equivalent to 10 degrees, so the satellite train currently measures roughly just less than a fist in length as it moves across the sky.
With time, however, as the satellites revolve around Earth at 90 minute intervals, they should appear less "bunched" together and may actually get a bit fainter as...
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