Why are Starlink "Racetrack" Flares [Mostly] Reported from Planes?

It's hard to get an insider view, it could be a lot of pilots see them and think "probably satellites" and are not bothered by them and those "reporting them and saying defo not satellites" are UFO fans who want to believe.

It is odd though you'd think if this were being seen by lots of pilots and there was no actual guidance on it, it would a bigger issue and thus solved because it would have "gotten serious"

I wonder if we could do some sort of rough calculation as to what percentage of flights have a chance of seeing them.
What I had thought of doing was a world map that showed areas around the globe in which the flares would likely be seen. All it really needs is to highlight where the sun's elevation is between (say) -40 to -50 degrees below the horizon, for any date & time, up to latitudes of about 53 degrees.. There are some graphs out there for specific locations but this would be a graphical map to show the extent of their visibility., I had hoped to create this so that everyone, not just pilots, could see the flares. Maybe I'll get round to doing it during the next pandemic.
 
All it really needs is to highlight where the sun's elevation is between (say) -40 to -50 degrees below the horizon
Take the subsolar point, mark two rings on the globe 130⁰ and 140⁰ from it, the area between is the one you want to highlight.

I'd also add rays every 10 degrees or so to indicate/predict the direction that the racetrack will be visible.
 
And *yet again* we see an insistent "it's not X" without *any* explanation of what is not X-like that could lead to the rejection of X as a possibility.
I'll give them a minor pass on this one -- I imagine any active pilot has by now seen Starlink TRAINS following a launch, or at least images/vids, and if that's what they think a "Starlink" looks like, then they are right (given what they know) in satying that the flares they are seeing look nothing like what they've seen before and called "Starlink." Until somebody explains to them what is going on -- how the trains spread out and become satellites that can flare under a specific set of conditions, and how those conditions are the same ones prevailing when they are seeing these "UFOs" -- which is where the work of folks who have contributed to this thread comes in!

(I wonder if it would be worth reaching out to SpaceX and see if they'll claim the phenomenon. They command a more prominent pulpit than we do...)
 
I'll give them a minor pass on this one -- I imagine any active pilot has by now seen Starlink TRAINS following a launch, or at least images/vids, and if that's what they think a "Starlink" looks like, then they are right (given what they know) in satying that the flares they are seeing look nothing like what they've seen before and called "Starlink." Until somebody explains to them what is going on -- how the trains spread out and become satellites that can flare under a specific set of conditions, and how those conditions are the same ones prevailing when they are seeing these "UFOs" -- which is where the work of folks who have contributed to this thread comes in!

(I wonder if it would be worth reaching out to SpaceX and see if they'll claim the phenomenon. They command a more prominent pulpit than we do...)

If they don't understand the difference between deployment and final orbit, they have no right to claim to know how satellites move across the sky. Which they did.

No pass given. Classic Dunning Kruger.

And yes, before you ask, code that I've written is orbitting the planet right now.
 
If they don't understand the difference between deployment and final orbit, they have no right to claim to know how satellites move across the sky. Which they did.

No pass given. Classic Dunning Kruger.
They're not "rocket scientists" or satellite mission specialists, they are pilots. Their claim to know what satellites look like moving across the sky is based on observing a lot of satellites moving across the sky for years before the Starlink satellites crowded the skies with something new that is going to produce a LOT more flares, in close proximity, under the right conditions. They've seen a thing called "Starlink." It does not look like what they are seeing now.

Until somebody tells them, "Wait, that's not the only thing that Starlink satellites can look like!" then they won't know that. Which is where the work done by folks working on this thread (and similar work presumably being done elsewhere) come sin, and is important.

Now if they get it explained to them and STILL insist it's not what it in fact actually is, then yeah, no pass given.


And yes, before you ask, code that I've written is orbitting the planet right now.
Would not have occurred to me to ask, but that's pretty freakin' amazing. Absolutely sincere salute to you!

(I have a friend in the kite world who developed the landing legs of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, using carbon rods ... or more likely tubes, I guess ... such as are used in modern high-performance sport-kite designs, which I also applaud! Nothing I've done has gone into space, other than shining a flashlight upwards and imagining the photons just heading on out into space... And yeah, I've literally done that! :p )
 
Thanks but the diagram shows the perfect observer line at a 23 degree angle rather than a 46 degree angle.
This diagram explains the mechanism of the flare phenomenon pretty well. It shows that the brightest flares will be at the center of the spectrally reflected ray - which will mean that they tend to be brighter when seen from aircraft.

1707329239764.png

This is a version of the diagram that I did where I tried to calculate the angles based on a satellite orbit height of 550km. This means that the flare will be the brightest when the sun is at 46 degrees below the angle of the satellite when seen by the observer.

1707329390561.png

This is a 3d model of the diagram above in Google Earth, it shows that the satellites are about 2000km when they flare.

1707388963357.png

This images shows a time laps of starlink flares and illustrates that there is a sweet-spot where the flares are brightest. Some satellites will miss the sweetspot so won't flare as brightly as the ones that do.

1707329584270.png

And this is a great video that shows how the position of the starlink flares moves up as the earth rotates and the suns relative position to the observer changes in the pre-dawn sky.


But if the flaring satellite is approximately 2000 km away, wouldn't the sun altitude be different at the satellite's location rather than the observer? We only know the location of the observer because that is where the report is made. Also, wouldn't a 46 degree elevation place the satellite in the Earth's shadow and unable to reflect? Thanks for the great explanation. I really appreciate it.
 
Take the subsolar point, mark two rings on the globe 130⁰ and 140⁰ from it, the area between is the one you want to highlight.

I'd also add rays every 10 degrees or so to indicate/predict the direction that the racetrack will be visible.
See new "Glare Band"

2024-02-12_14-01-37.jpg

It's a little ad-hoc, in that I positioned it manually where the reflections occur in Sitrec. Calculating where this actually is gives us about 40° to 53° (i.e. 130° to 143° from the subsolar point)
 
See new "Glare Band"

2024-02-12_14-01-37.jpg

It's a little ad-hoc, in that I positioned it manually where the reflections occur in Sitrec. Calculating where this actually is gives us about 40° to 53° (i.e. 130° to 143° from the subsolar point)
Next feature - sum the population of earth found in that band.
This is screaming to be a trivia teaser - where would the sun be such that it had the most populous luminous annulus?
 
Next feature - sum the population of earth found in that band.
This is screaming to be a trivia teaser - where would the sun be such that it had the most populous luminous annulus?

Ha, I've been thinking about ways of visualizing it. You can get a rough proxy for population from the city lights. For pilots though it's a different matter. I could overlay a flight routes map.

But another significant thing here is how close they are to the northernmost parts of the orbit where the density increases, and you get more interesting trajectories. 2024-02-12_15-41-28.jpg

Here, the UK looks like it's in a good spot, but it's not. You need to go down to the South of France and Northern Spain to start getting good viewing opportunities. Looking towards the sun from London means the flare region is in the nearly-empty zone.


2024-02-12_15-43-43.jpg

Another thing that you can see is just how seasonal it is in some locations. In mid-summer there's no chance of seeing them from the UK, as it's nowhere near the glare band.
2024-02-12_15-49-21.jpg

And there's a similar situation with north-Atlantic tracks.

Hawaii filights, on the other hand, can see them year round here's midsummer, looking North.

2024-02-12_15-52-02.jpg

And midwinter, looking East.
2024-02-12_15-52-54.jpg
 
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Another post from a pilot on Reddit....


Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/1axi86b/pilot_video_from_cockpit_22224_3am_est_sfo_to_fll/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=mweb3x&utm_name=mweb3xcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=share_button

The following submission statement was provided by u/InternationalAttrny:


Submission Statement:

The attached video is from the cockpit of a commercial flight from San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale.

JetBlue pilot taken from cockpit mid flight.

Pilot reports multiple other commercial aircraft reporting seeing.

Trajectory was absolutely non-linear, and they rotated, dimmed, and return to brightness multiple times.

Pilot reports this is the 4th time he’s seen these recently on this red eye route.

Pilot reports they appears to be significantly above his altitude, almost seeming to be in space, but they were extremely bright. Lots of radio chatter too regarding the lights.

Most interesting: during the first few seconds of the video, watch to the left. One dims out, and immediately after dimming you’ll see a large bright flash to the left of the dimmed position.
 
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