Questions tagged [visibility-of-spacecraft]

questions about how visible spacecraft are, as seen from Earth or anywhere else, as seen by eye or by imaging systems.

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1answer
773 views

How do rocket propellant combinations rank in terms of “brightness”?

While a booster on the shuttle had a bit more than twice the thrust of the shuttles engines at take-off, I'd venture a guess that it produced on the order of a thousand time more visible light. In ...
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1answer
15k views

How far away can one see a NASA rocket launch?

I live in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., and the weatherman thought we'd be able to see a rocket launched from Wallops Island (alas, it blew up instead) which by car is 166 miles away. ...
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Why were early satellites produced with polished “mirror-like” surfaces?

Many/most early artificial satellites were spheres with mirror-like polished outer surfaces. I am guessing that for lower orbits the spherical shape minimized drag as well as simplified the analysis ...
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Two week mark; has Mayak (Маяк) been spotted yet? Reflector deployed? Astronomy “ruined”?

Deborah Byrd's article Have you seen the Mayak satellite? explains Mayak with a bit of humor: A team of young Russians – led by Moscow State Mechanical Engineering University (MAMI) – managed to ...
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1answer
856 views

Is it feasible to paint SpaceX Starlink satellites black so as not to frequently saturate the CCDs of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope?

update: From Nature.com News article: SpaceX launch highlights threat to astronomy from ‘megaconstellations’: But an upcoming, cutting-edge telescope could be in bigger trouble. The US Large Synoptic ...
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3answers
261 views

Was Roadster (Starman) seen in Earth orbit, before the long burn to deep space?

Discussion in comments below this answer tend to conclude that 1st stages come back to Earth and so (essentially) all those tumbling rocket body objects in Heavens Above are 2nd stages, though I ...
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0answers
162 views

Attitude of the upcoming “Orbital Reflector”; will it result in good visibility?

There's a new (passive solar) orbital reflector, called the Orbital Reflector. While Mayak (Маяк) was a crowdfunded project at Moscow State Mechanical Engineering University and the Humanity Star ...
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What attitudes will Starlink satellites have in different orbits?

update 3: Guest Post: Modelling of Starlink trail brightness and comparison to observations update 2: Teslarati's SpaceX’s Starlink “VisorSat” launch plans revealed by Elon Musk explains Open Book ...
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2answers
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Will they really be able to “see” OSIRIS-REx from Australia? With meteor cameras?

Thw news.com.au article NASA spacecraft to fly over Australia during Earth Gravity Assist manoeuvre has some interesting graphics (shown below). In the article is discussion of meteor cameras, and ...
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Has direct bandgap photoemission from III-V solar panels on spacecraft ever been detected or reported?

I thought I had asked this question before, but I can't find it now so I will ask here. I have asked a related question in Physics SE: Do III-V based photovoltaics “glow” (photo-luminesce) when ...
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When was the first successful photograph of an orbital spacecraft from Earth taken?

Early artificial satellites were tracked by radio and visually by amateurs, scientists and military personnel for various reasons including fun and improving the understanding of orbital dynamics ...
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What is the maximal distance to see a rocket's flare in the sky? [duplicate]

We get onboard a cruise ship 5 to 6 hours prior to the launch, in direction of Nassau, Bahamas. Cruising at about 25 km/hr, we should be about 150 km away from the pad.Do you think that we still have ...
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Have astronauts seen Starlink trains?

Starlink satellites move in the same altitude region as the ISS (on their way up and eventually back down) and are particularly noticeable for weeks after deployment as "trains". Have one of these ...
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1k views

Is the Starlink array really visible from Earth?

I was browsing YouTube when I came across this video, recorded from a sky gazer who apparently spotted the Starlink satellites. In my lifetime, I haven't seen many satellites in the night skies (maybe ...
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1answer
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Have any satellites had lights visible from Earth besides FITSat-1?

Clearly not a duplicate! of Why does the International Space Station have a downward facing light? This answer to How does the Starlink satellite shine? begins with Starlink (and other satellites) ...
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720 views

How bright is a rocket launch?

How bright (in Watts, preferably, or lumens) is the plume from a rocket launch (e.g. a SpaceX launch)? Obviously in its direction of travel it isn't particularly bright, but what is its effective ...
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Did CNSA astronaut Zhai Zhigang see the ISS during an EVA?

This answer to Has an astronaut ever seen another object in LEO pass by that wasn't mission-related? says: The encounter happened at longer distances ($\sim47\;km$) and the Shenzhou-7 is smaller than ...
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Has the Humanity Star been spotted yet?

With all the hullabaloo that the Roadster/Spaceman duo has been getting, is there any indication that the Humanity Star has been seen visually yet? Any reports of it's sparkly mirrorball-like ...
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When are close approaches of Helios 1 and 2 to the Earth? Any historical tracking data? Any reports in sky surveys?

This answer to ** notes that it's hard to get current data on the orbits of Helios-1 and Helios-2 and I couldn't find any in JPL's Horizons. They are shiny and in nice elliptical orbits between ...
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How much brighter-than-expected could a spent rocket body become?

In a comment below an answer to the question What could have made a satellite appear to move side to side while near the horizon? I've said: Actually a satellite with flat surfaces - especially ...
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How did SpaceX's VisorSat work? How did the sunshade articulate to shade parts of Starlink satellite as it orbits the Earth?

CNET's Elon Musk wants SpaceX to launch the next generation of space telescopes says: The billionaire entrepreneur said that "VisorSat" satellites equipped with a sunshade to block ...