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SpaceX Starlink Satellite Train,
The Pleiades

Posted: 4 December 2021

Friday, 3 December 2021, I was featured on the Explore Alliance Focus on Astrophotography live show. I talked about Smartphone Astrophotography. Click the link to view a replay.


Open: Friday, 3 December 2021, 1804 MST
Temperature: 75°F
Session: 1702
Conditions: Mostly clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
Focal Reducer
2" UHC filter

iPhone 13 Pro Max

1808 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Venus, Saturn, and then Jupiter, 102X.

Viewed M45 (the Pleiades), 102X.

I prepared the D850 DSLR for later imaging, and then relaxed on the observatory patio bench while waiting for Astronomical Twilight to end.

1835 MST: Took this handheld iPhone 13 Pro Max photo of the southern sky showing the planets and some clouds that were approaching.

Mouseover or tap on image
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1839 MST: I began watching the SpaceX Starlink satellite train as the satellites rose in the southwestern sky. These satellites were launched on 2 December 2021. They were much brighter than I expected. I used the iPhone 13 Pro Max to take a handheld video of the train. Here are some stills from that video. The train passed near the stars Vega (3rd image) and then Polaris (4th image).


Here is a 1 minute video as the train approached and passed the star Vega.

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To view the video at a larger scale, click this image. It is best viewed on a large screen.

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As heard in the video, a neighbor's dogs did not like what the SpaceX Starlink satellites were doing to the tranquility of the night sky.

1851 MST: Back inside the observatory. I was now in a race with the clouds as a I prepared to image M45 (the Pleiades). Mounted the D850 DSLR at prime focus + focal reducer + UHC filter, focused on Capella, and locked the 12" mirror.

1900 MST: did this StarLock autoguided, 5 minutes, ISO 12800, White Balance 4550K, image of the Pleiades.


I then began taking another series of images at ISO 1600, but the clouds covered the Pleiades during my second image. I lost the race with the clouds, which were now in most of the sky.

1930 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Friday, 3 December 2021, 1938 MST
Temperature: 59°F
Session Length: 1h 34m
Conditions: Mostly cloudy

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