In 2019 SpaceX began deploying a constellation of internet relay satellites called Starlink.
The satellites are relatively large (about 3m flat-panel bus with 9m solar array) and
in low (300-550 km) orbits, and in their initial design are unexpectedly bright naked-eye objects.
Various proposals filed with the FCC described constellations of 4000, 12000 and ultimately
30,000 satellites. Widespread optical observations of the satellites raised the
concern that the fully deployed constellation would have severe impacts on astronomical
observations and even on appreciation of the night sky by ordinary people around the world.
In early 2020 the various filings represented a proposed 12000 satellite constellation.
I discussed the effects of such a constellation in a paper in the Astrophysical Journal Letters:
By late May 2020, however, Starlink had updated its plans - partly in response to the concerns
of astronomers. On this web page I will present updated simulations.
For my analysis of the Starlink orbital history and notes on satellite failures, see
Starlink orbits and
Recent papers by other groups:
- SATCON 1 Report
- SATCON 1 WG Tech Reports
- Hainaut and Williams, On the Impact of Satellite Constellations on Astronomical Observations with ESO telescopes in the Visible and Infrared Domains, A&A 636, A121
- Mallama et al, A Flat-Panel Brightness Model for the Starlink Satellites and Measurement of their Absolute Visual Magnitude, arxiv 2003.07805
- Seitzer, Large Constellations of Satellites and Optical Astronomy BAAS 52, 311.07
- Cole, Measurement Of The Brightness Of The Starlink Spacecraft Named "DARKSAT", RNAAS 4, 42
- Tregloan-Reed et al, First observations and magnitude measurement of Starlink's Darksat, A&A 637, L1
- Mallama, Starlink Satellite Brightness Before VisorSat, arxiv 2006.08422
- Tyson et al, Mitigation of LEO Satellite Brightness and Trail Effects on the Rubin Observatory LSST
- Horiuchi, Hanayama and Ohishi, Simultaneous Multicolor Observations of Starlink's Darksat by The Murikabushi Telescope with MITSuME, arxiv 2010.04655