Looking for suggestions on creating a night sky simulator with real satellite positions

HicSvntDracones

New Member
I love the video Scott Manley made that shows what the sky looks like if all satellites were visible. This got me thinking.. it would be highly useful to have a 360-degree simulator of the night sky and satellites, along with solar effects, such as orbital twilight. Primarily, I am interested in this because I have a theory that a lot of UAP reports, where an object is traveling one direction, then makes a 90-degree turn is actually 2 satellites in 2 different orbits crossing paths at the terminator, where one enters into darkness and another enters light. A realistic 360 degree simulator would let me validate this idea, along with being able to visualize the concept to others.

Anyone have a good suggestion of what to use? I know a lot of options exist, but looking for something that can show realistic views of satellites from the ground, including reflections and passing the day/night terminator.

Thanks
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
If you can wait a few months, I'm writing one, just bare bones now.
https://www.metabunk.org/sitrec/?sitch=globe

I could not get current Starlink working on Stellarium. Anyone got that working?

in-the-sky is probably the best for finding satellites from a given position, but the view is limited.
https://in-the-sky.org/satmap_planetarium.php?year=2022&month=10&day=29

Heaven's above has the view of Starlink from space.
https://heavens-above.com/Starlink.aspx

Dr Andrew Marsh's Earth/Sun sim is beautiful,
https://drajmarsh.bitbucket.io/earthsun.html

I'm aiming at something that combines the two, adds ground views, and is intergrated into the Sitrec framework.
 

Easy Muffin

Senior Member
I could not get current Starlink working on Stellarium. Anyone got that working?
Works fine here, maybe you haven't got them in your sources? I don't remember if I had to add them to the list manually but it should look something like this.
sl.jpg
 

Creamy Pasta

New Member
I love the video Scott Manley made that shows what the sky looks like if all satellites were visible. This got me thinking.. it would be highly useful to have a 360-degree simulator of the night sky and satellites, along with solar effects, such as orbital twilight. Primarily, I am interested in this because I have a theory that a lot of UAP reports, where an object is traveling one direction, then makes a 90-degree turn is actually 2 satellites in 2 different orbits crossing paths at the terminator, where one enters into darkness and another enters light. A realistic 360 degree simulator would let me validate this idea, along with being able to visualize the concept to others.

Anyone have a good suggestion of what to use? I know a lot of options exist, but looking for something that can show realistic views of satellites from the ground, including reflections and passing the day/night terminator.

Thanks
I built one of these myself for a browser-based night sky view using VirtualSky from Las Cumbres Observatory.

https://lco.global/

https://virtualsky.lco.global/

https://github.com/LCOGT/VirtualSky
 

Creamy Pasta

New Member
I built one of these myself for a browser-based night sky view using VirtualSky from Las Cumbres Observatory.

https://lco.global/

https://virtualsky.lco.global/

https://github.com/LCOGT/VirtualSky

For reference, here's a screen grab of my code using VirtualSky to build the planetarium. In this view, I have loaded a recent download of Starlink satellites. The yellow is "sunlit", orange is "penumbra lit" and blue is not sunlit. (edit: The green blocks are the actual satellite positions at that time). Note, VirtualSky is just a planetarium. Extra code is required to add the satellites to the view but it's to difficult.
 

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Creamy Pasta

New Member
I previously mentioned that I had a tool and did a screen grab in my previous post. I have now uploaded this to my Github Pages and it can be found here:-

https://a-j-k.github.io/starlink/index.html

Note. I have only today begun collecting and archiving Starlink TLEs. So the demo currently uses a recent download of Starlink TLEs. Once I have an archive I intend to update this so that Starlink TLEs on the date input will be those used to render the display. So there's still further work to do. Hope it's of use to someone. Here's a video screencap of it running.

 

Creamy Pasta

New Member
Hey thanks for doing this so quickly. I'll check it out, but on first impressions it looks great.
It might be a useful tool. But the main issue is that using a planetarium library to draw the sky means you can't zoom in, it generally gives an all sky view making it hard to see details. But it does provide you with a guide. Funny thing is, there are so many Starlink sats now that you can select a view below 60 degrees latitude and any time of day and it looks mostly the same. The sky is covered in them and the operators are only just getting started.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
there are so many Starlink sats now that you can select a view below 60 degrees latitude and any time of day and it looks mostly the same. The sky is covered in them and the operators are only just getting started.
I think this is the message we need to get out there. Anyone reporting a sequence of lights in the sky and thinking that it's anything apart from the entirely mundane is almost certainly just wasting everyone's time now. OK, with a utility like yours, it will be less effort to debunk, but such things are still noise with no signal.

Maybe we should all just go out and capture some short vids from wherever we are, and they can be put into a little montage titled "There's nothing unusual about seeing Starlink" or suchlike.
 

Easy Muffin

Senior Member
I think this is the message we need to get out there. Anyone reporting a sequence of lights in the sky and thinking that it's anything apart from the entirely mundane is almost certainly just wasting everyone's time now.
Yep, I think it makes more sense to try and determine the regions that best lend themselves to these sightings rather than working out where the individual Starlink sats are, because wherever you look for a couple of minutes it's pretty much a given that at least some of them will be in the vicinity. Ideally we'd end up with something that simply goes 'look at this part of the sky tonight at xx:xx, there's probably gonna be something there.'
 

Creamy Pasta

New Member
I think this is the message we need to get out there. Anyone reporting a sequence of lights in the sky and thinking that it's anything apart from the entirely mundane is almost certainly just wasting everyone's time now. OK, with a utility like yours, it will be less effort to debunk, but such things are still noise with no signal.

Maybe we should all just go out and capture some short vids from wherever we are, and they can be put into a little montage titled "There's nothing unusual about seeing Starlink" or suchlike.

With Iridium flares we had software that predicted the flares before they happen to allow people to actually go out and view or photograph them since they were so impressive. However, Starlink flares are not so impressive but clearly becoming far more evident by their sheer number (this may be seasonal though, we'll have to wait and see).

But getting the message out there that "this is a thing" is important. Remember when Starlink was new and the launch trains were misreported? But as time went on it became well-known enough for the issue to go away. This needs to happen to flares too.

Yep, I think it makes more sense to try and determine the regions that best lend themselves to these sightings rather than working out where the individual Starlink sats are, because wherever you look for a couple of minutes it's pretty much a given that at least some of them will be in the vicinity. Ideally we'd end up with something that simply goes 'look at this part of the sky tonight at xx:xx, there's probably gonna be something there.'

As I've said, this was achieved before for Iridium. I think it is a worthwhile effort because predicting flares before they happen is a great debunking tool.

And then there's BlueWalker3... these will definitely need a prediction tool when they start deploying their antennas ;)
 

flarkey

Senior Member.
Staff member
Remember when Starlink was new and the launch trains were misreported? But as time went on it became well-known enough for the issue to go away. This needs to happen to flares too.
Judging by the posts on reddit.com/r/UFOs a few days after each Starlink launch there are still many people who don't know what Starlink train looks like. And there's many who still don't accept what we're seeing here as Starlink.
 

Creamy Pasta

New Member
Maybe we should all just go out and capture some short vids from wherever we are, and they can be put into a little montage titled "There's nothing unusual about seeing Starlink" or suchlike.
Actually, gathering data is useful to understand the Sun->Satellite->Observer angles. Other satellite-type observations are seasonal (such as the Geostationary Eclipse Season for example). So this information is highly interesting to folks like myself who like to write software for working out under what conditions a flare is likely or even a certainty.
 

Creamy Pasta

New Member
Judging by the posts on reddit.com/r/UFOs a few days after each Starlink launch there are still many people who don't know what Starlink train looks like. And there's many who still don't accept what we're seeing here as Starlink.
But you see it less in the general news media now because it was those people who amplified the phenomenon. It's now generally been pushed into corners and I even see hardened UAPers saying "Nah, that's just Starlink". There will always be those who look up and see something mundane and claim ETs here.
 

Easy Muffin

Senior Member
With Iridium flares we had software that predicted the flares before they happen to allow people to actually go out and view or photograph them since they were so impressive. However, Starlink flares are not so impressive but clearly becoming far more evident by their sheer number (this may be seasonal though, we'll have to wait and see).
The Iridium predictions were fantastic, quite often you'd see them begin to flare and increase in brightness only a handful of seconds before the estimate. Be great to have something like that for Starlink, eventually.
I guess the thing about Starlink won't be the brightness but the sheer number of them, with one disappearing only for the next one to show up right after. Compare considerably less than 100 Iridium sats at any one time to 3,000+ Starlinks, and they keep sending up more.
 

Creamy Pasta

New Member
... quite often you'd see them begin to flare and increase in brightness only a handful of seconds before the estimate...
Sometimes you got the prediction so far ahead you had time to select a good location, prepare equipment days ahead, and execute the photograph. Here's the last Iridium 3 picture before it was deorbited. I had several days to prepare for this photograph. (edit: 12 second exposure)

I3.jpg
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
Elon Musk's Kessler syndrome lightshow.

Elon Reeve Musk's Starlink company = Me, panic? Novelty Kessler runs amok! (anagram)

Edit: and the g/f's just offered this silly one:
Elon Musk, SpaceX, & Starlink = Clank! -> Kessler no-sat. mixup
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Elon Musk's Kessler syndrome lightshow.
Article:
SpaceX filed documents in late 2017 with the FCC to clarify their space debris mitigation plan, under which the company was to:

"...implement an operations plan for the orderly de-orbit of satellites nearing the end of their useful lives (roughly five to seven years) at a rate far faster than is required under international standards. [Satellites] will de-orbit by propulsively moving to a disposal orbit from which they will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere within approximately one year after completion of their mission."[37]

At 550 km for their medium band, they seem significantly lower than other LEO satellites, and thus quicker to deorbit even if not propelled to disposal.
 
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