How to see Starlink satellites – Elon Musk's bright space tech to pass over UK TONIGHT

BIZARRE bright "streaks" will crisscross the sky over Britain tonight in a rare light show that's got astronomers riled up.

The dazzling specs are swarms of "Starlink" satellites built by SpaceX, a rocket firm that wants to beam super-fast WiFi to people from orbit – we've got all the info on how to spot them below.

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a project that intends to put 12,000 satellites into the Earth's orbit so they can provide cheap WiFi to the world.

They're built and launched by SpaceX, which also intends to sell its satellites for military, scientific and exploratory purposes.

The firm sends its satellites up in batches of 60 at a time and has so far deployed 362 into orbit.

Each group is launched atop an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket.

How the probes will affect the night sky is causing concern as they sit in a low orbit, so appear brighter than stars and planets.

SpaceX is a Californian rocket company owned by kooky billionaire Elon Musk.

When to see tonight's Starlink show

In the UK, Starlink satellites will begin to show up in the night sky around 9:55pm BST.

They will appear as "trains" of bright spots that travel from east to west quite quickly (for a satellite).

Amateur stargazers can expect to see them glide across the sky for around 20 minutes.

The satellites are so bright that you won't need binoculars or a telescope to see them.

It goes without saying that you'll need a clear sky and as little light around you as possible to spot them.

Try not to stare at your phone too much and to turn off any outside lights you have to dampen light pollution.

Starlink satellites can be up to ten minutes "late".

How to track Starlink satellites in real-time

Not sure where to look? Your phone's got you covered.

There are a number of stargazing apps you can use to follow the path of Starlink probes.

On the Apple App Store, we'd recommend Night Sky, which is free and helps you find all kinds of celestial wonders.

For Android fans, Satellite Tracker should do the trick (it's also available on iPhone).

Alternatively, you can visit the Find Starlink website (or the “Find Starlink Satellites” app) and enter your location.

Sightings over the weekend

Baffled Brits were left amazed and confused as Starlink satellites lit up the night sky over the weekend.

Keen stargazers watched in wonder as a trail of lights flashed through the sky last night, at around 9.20pm.

They took to social media to speculate whether the streaks were meteor showers or even UFOs.

Brits took to Twitter to share their confusion at the incredible light display.

Steve said: “Anybody know what the long chain of satellites going through the British sky right now are? Must be 50 of them so far?”

Al Iguana commented: “Just went out in the garden, to take in the stars, and saw six ‘satellites’, in a row, a fairly equal distance apart, moving north.

“Wasn't planes, cos a blinky light jumbo flew under them, and it was lower and slower.

“Wasn't meteors, cos they dont' travel in a convoy … #UFOs.”

Is Starlink 'blocking' the night sky?

The Starlink programme is controversial amongst astronomers, who have slammed Musk's hare-brained scheme.

They say the satellites get in the way of observations and stop them from viewing the night sky due to the light.

University of Western Ontario meteor researcher Denis Vida stated in a blog post last year: "One has to be concerned how will our skies look like when hearing that there are plans to launch a total of 42,000 satellites.

"This might completely deny us to do any optical meteor observations as soon as 2024."

However, Musk claims the trains of satellites have no such impact.

Speaking at a conference in Washington DC last month, he said: "I am confident that we will not cause any impact whatsoever in astronomical discoveries. Zero. That’s my prediction.

"We’ll take corrective action if it’s above zero."

SpaceX engineers are also said to be looking into making the satellites a bit less shiny so they won't reflect the sun as much.

Will Starlink 'trap' humanity on Earth?

There have been concerns that humanity could be trapped on Earth by too much space junk in Earth's orbit.

That's according to one space scientist, who says Musk's plan could create an impenetrable wall of space junk around our planet.

A catastrophic clutter of space debris left behind by the satellites could block rockets from leaving Earth, an effect known as "Kessler syndrome".

"The worst case is: You launch all your satellites, you go bankrupt, and they all stay there," European Space Agency scientist Dr Stijn Lemmens told Scientific American.

"Then you have thousands of new satellites without a plan of getting them out of there. And you would have a Kessler-type of syndrome."

It will take thousands of years for any SpaceX satellites left in our orbit to descend to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere.

The firm says it's already taken steps to avoid cluttering up the region. It's launching the satellites into a lower orbital plane than most space tech to avoid collisions.

In other news, Nasa astronauts will launch into space from US soil next month for the first time in nearly a decade.

An amazing SpaceX video recently revealed how the company will one day fire astronauts to the ISS.

SpaceX apparently wants the US Army to use the 18,000 mile-an-hour spacecraft to transport troops & supplies across the planet in "minutes".

What do you think of Musk's satellite plan? Let us know in the comments!

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