Starlink Flares?

Forums General Discussion Starlink Flares?

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    Mike Harlow

    I was out observing on Saturday night/Sunday morning 5th to 6th June.  At around 01:00 BST I was looking in the direction of Delphinus in the south-east and noticed a bright satellite flare about as bright as Venus but only lasting a second or two.  Nothing unusual there but 10 or so seconds later there was another flare in the same position and equally bright.  And then another and another.  Probably 10 to 15 in total all in the same position in the sky but as the sequence progressed each flare became a little less bright so the last one was ‘only’ about mag 0.

    This looked to me like a Starlink pass but all previous ones I’ve seen have been a continuous train of bright points crossing the sky.  This one was clearly each satellite passing through a particular point where the geometry was just right to flare.  The satellites weren’t visible either before or after the flare.

    Has anyone else seen this sort of thing?  Looks like there are still some orientations where the sunshields on the satellites don’t work.


    (I’m observing from near Ipswich in the UK, so 52deg N, 1 deg east).

    Alex Pratt

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve been getting these on my video meteor cameras, just as you describe – a series of satellite flares from the same location in the sky. To be honest, I haven’t checked their identity, whether Starlink or otherwise (e.g. on Heavens Above). These flares, and the processions of satellite chains, are becoming so common I often delete the video clips, although I have saved a couple for presentation purposes.

    Oh the joys of the modern Vermin of the Skies.



    stan armstrong

    ###### If ADMIN are watching the Site??#####  i have tried to Normalise my [NAME] …  [To Stan Armstrong]..  but am guessing that as ‘THAT’ is the Lynchpin of my Records.. It is a Forbidden Entry?  Be that as it may..

    Hi Mike…Thought i would confirm your June 6th Sightings.. someof which were certainly of the magnitude order of Venus.. but with the reservation that the objects were actually successively in a more Northerly position..  I will Dig out a Shot later after a Bite to eat. 

    Stan  [Observing near M40..Jn3.]

    Andy Wilson

    Hi Stan,

    I have just sent you an email about changing your name on the website.

    Best wishes,

    Andy (BAA Systems Administrator)

    Dominic Ford

    Like Alex, I’ve also been seeing these flares among the captures from my two meteor cameras. The most I’ve ever picked up is 3-5 satellites, but the Pi Gazing software deliberately masks out pixels that seem to be scintillating, which probably works quite well as an unintentional Starlink mask (after the first few members of the chain have gone past, at least).

    One feature I added to Pi Gazing over my Easter break was the ability to automatically identify satellites by correlating their positions with orbital elements downloaded from CelesTrak. All of the hard orbital mechanics is calculated by Python’s SGP4 module. I also do the same with aircraft, using a separate Raspberry Pi which records the ADS-B positional squitters of any aircraft within 15 km. (In the long term, I’m wondering about using this dataset to improve my fitting of the radial lens distortion in my cameras).

    Here’s one example, from April. Three satellites, about one minute apart, all positively identified as Starlink:

    There’s a full list of my satellite sightings here…… though it’s not been updated since 2 May.

    stan armstrong

    Thanks to Andy the name change went well and retested Fine..

    Dominics Input is interesting ..  as for many months I have found his ‘Obs East’ Sky Outline tallies with my Zenith.. except i have Polaris in my view too.. Now I find another of his Coverages is always in my view too.  Mike’s Sunshield limitations suggestion starts to look plausible to me. No longer Alex’s ‘vermin’ BUT now the Lions and Tigers of the skies! Had to wait a longtime as Recorder/PC well-overloaded…[even says ‘No Resources’ at times ] hence Mike’s 0100 got a bit suspect..Eventually saw over half dozen at  size > than typical ISS Pass at that altitude.. Then the Antipenultimate Event of the String [Wanted to write that for 60years!] was/were Twins.. of a slightly lesser magnitude… Shown in the Shot Above.. Hope it help deliberations.. and can go back several months if it helps Dominic.  

    stan armstrong

     Brilliant that that my previous jpg.. which is a 266KB on myDesktop.. has been so well  Squosen to a Mere 13.5KB..! And still OK to show Delphinus. As the Orbs were at around 10sec intervals.. thought an earlier one would be useful..Shown below.. 


    Mike Harlow

    Thanks Stan et. al. good to see you got some images of the event.  I should have realised that meteor cameras would be picking these things up all the time.

    I’m reliably informed that the pass included Starlink 2261 which passed through Delphinus at 01:07 from my site in Suffolk.

    Thanks again for everyone’s feedback; they are interesting events to witness if somewhat disturbing for deep sky imagers.


    Nick James

    Here is a speeded up video of your flares from Chelmsford. I have lots of cheap IP cameras pointing in all directions recording video in a 7-day cycle so I still had this from Sunday morning. There is quite of lot of cloud but Altair is visible just left of centre and Delphinus is visible through the cloud. I’m around 37 miles SW of you as the crow flies so my flares were probably not as impressive as yours. 

    Mike Harlow

    Thanks Nick, very nice video! Picks up the fact that some satellites were on slightly different paths (slightly north or south) as Stan noted earlier.



    This is very interesting and something of a potential worry to Astro-Imagers.

    Like myself. 

    Derek Robson

    Loughborough camera picked up the longest “flare” I’ve detected.  The video triggered twice; first for a few seconds then for a much longer period.  I don’t know if this was due to cloud, or the way the thing flared.  There just seemed to be an abrupt halt then restart. 

    I couldn’t see any hint of regular pulses along the trail, which makes me think it wasn’t a plane.  The smoothness of the silvery toned trail and spear-like nature made me think more like a flare.  I’ve not done any analysis on it yet.  If someone detected it further away from my location, then it isn’t a plane near me.

    Alex drew this post to my attention, so I’ve posted the image here.

    I’ve seen Starlink trains but always as dots following each other in a line.  I’m wondering if the dots that would have been visible by eye, have all merged to produce a composite trail.  Direction of movement, left to right. Camera points SW.

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