From: PAUL MALEY via Seesat-l <>
Date: Sun, 8 May 2022 12:29:42 +0000 (UTC)
This group was launched on May 6 and since I have not had good opportunities for observation soon after launch over the past year I wanted to see what this crowd looked like.  In past years the train of payloads would all appear naked eye, at least within a day or two after launch and easily visible across much of the sky on a geometrically favorable pass. However, on May 7 I had a decent pass in the southeast morning sky and failed to see anything. This made me think that perhaps there has been an effort to orient payloads relatively soon after launch in order to minimize naked eye visibility. This morning (May 8) there was a very promising pass reaching maximum elevation of 57 degrees above the northwest horizon, although it occurred 52 minutes before local sunrise. I began observing naked eye in the southwest direction where the sky track would be. I stationed a camera pointing toward Corona Borealis in the west. Seconds before it would reach the camera point I thought I saw a faint trail reminiscent of the partly spread group of the past but still one that was 'smeared together' as seen visually and photographically. I would estimate that this 'smeared train' was about +4.5 magnitude and if I did not know it was there, I would not have recognized there was anything in the sky.
As the group moved toward the northeast I took photos but could not see the train. Simply guess work. However, as the group was dropping behind my house I saw a dramatic rise in brightness as individual pieces reached +2 magnitude. Not all of them, but enough to wear I could take 3 images and compare to a nearby star field. 
Overall, if I had not been looking low in the north northeast sky, I would not have spotted any of these pieces. The current orbit seems to be 302x316km and in the past the Starlink train would have been quite spectacular somewhere in the sky if not covering most of the track. But not for this group on this day. This observation may (or may not) be an indication that Starlink design measures to minimize night sky disruption for ground observers is taking effect early in its mission profile.
Paul D. Maley 
Carefree, Arizona USA

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Received on Sun May 08 2022 - 07:33:01 UTC

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