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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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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Efficient method to compute rise and set times of satellites (visibility problem)?

Today I found the paper "Rise and Set Time of a Satellite about an Oblate Planet" (Pedro Ramón Escobal, 1963), which presents "a closed-form solution to the satellite visibility problem&...
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What is laser-reflective parachute cloth and have lasers ever been used to track it?

In the JAXA PDF Hayabusa2 Information Fact Sheet (Ver. 2. 3, 2018. 07. 05, found here) on slide/page number 53 there is a diagram labeled Re-entry sequence overview and in the top right corner is ...
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Besides the video game and Nine Inch Nails box set, what is HALO-IV? How does it relate to the testing of ICBM interceptors?

Near the end of the Raytheon Technologies YouTube video Missile Defense Agency completes unprecedented homeland defense test can be seen what looks to me like thermal infrared footage of a ship-...
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Are crewed spacecraft missions that appear stationary from the ground possible?

I've looked at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacecraft and the following question arose. For crewed spacecraft missions, can a spacecraft remain stationary in the sky i.e. not moving once launched ...
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Who proposed detonating gunpowder on the moon to prove a rocket reached it?

I remember reading a about some rocket pioneer who had proposed that if a rocket were launched to the moon, one way to prove that it had reached the moon would be to detonate a large quantity of ...
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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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Would the Saturday May 30th 2020 SpaceX launch visible from Boca Raton? [duplicate]

Will I be able to see the SpaceX Crew Demo-2 launch this Saturday May 30th if I’m at the beach in Boca Raton, Florida and the launch takes place?
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Will WFIRST and JWST be able to resolve each other?

The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch in 2021 and be put in a halo orbit around Sun-Earth L2 soon after. The plan for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope is a launch perhaps ...
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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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What is the cause of the Terra Satellite color as seen from Earth?

Yesterday I spotted the Terra Satellite (EOS AM-1) with my binoculars. This is the 22nd satellite I've spotted. It all looked like usual but there was something very different: the satellite was ...
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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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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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Will it be possible to see BFR approaching the moon from earth, with naked eye?

The title pretty much sums it up. I'm not old enough to have experienced any of the previous manned moon landings. Given that Big Falcon Rocket will go around the moon in 2023, I'm wondering if one ...
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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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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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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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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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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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Can satellites or the ISS be seen from Earth during a Total Solar Eclipse?

If there is a satellite or the ISS passing by over a point during a total solar eclipse in the darkest region, will the satellite be visible by naked eye or a pair of binoculars, since it will be dark ...
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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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Is it possible to see ISS solar arrays with naked eye, from earth? [duplicate]

I have a friend who swears that he saw the ISS and the arrays sticking out the sides of the bright light. I'm thinking he has cataracts. (We're both of that age.) Is it possible he really did see ...
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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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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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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 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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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. ...