Modeling Starlink magnitudes in a simulation

From: Max Hartshorn via Seesat-l <>
Date: Tue, 2 Jun 2020 10:42:46 -0400
Hi All,

I'm new to this list and new to satellite observation. My name is Max
Hartshorn and I'm a computer programmer and data journalist based in
Toronto, Canada. I became interested in Starlink after I inadvertently
witnessed the initial load shortly after the launch last May. They were by
far the brightest objects in the sky...though I understand their apparent
magnitudes will have decreased considerably once they reached their final

What I'd like to do is create a *responsible* and *non alarmist*
visualization of what the night sky *could* look like when 12,000 Starlink
satellites are up and running. As far as I know such a simulation does not

I've been playing around with Stellarium and TLEs and I can see that it's
possible to generate a TLE file for 12,000 satellites at roughly the
configuration proposed by Starlink, and model those orbits in Stellarium.
But the big open question is around magnitudes.

I've been looking through the archives here and I've seen a range of
apparent magnitude observations, anywhere from 2 to 9. Additionally
Starlink is iterating the design of their satellites to minimize

The threshold that's most interesting to me is the 6.5 threshold for naked
eye observation. If the satellites (particularly those in the lower orbital
shells) are below that threshold, they could potentially impact how the
general public views the night sky.

Is there any agreed upon estimate for the apparent magnitude of the
Starlink satellites currently in orbit? Do we just not know yet? Are there
any responsible methods for modeling / estimating the magnitude of the
remaining satellites?

Sorry for the long email. I figure if anybody would know the answers to
these questions it would be you folks :)

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Received on Tue Jun 02 2020 - 09:44:08 UTC

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