American company SpaceX will make its tenth Starlink launch on today (23 June), with a further 60 satellites due to be sent into space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The launch will see the number of Starlink satellites in Earth’s orbit climb to more than 500 in total, with many people across the UK spotting the strange UFO-like glimmers in the night sky over recent weeks.
If you haven’t managed to spot them yet, there will be a chance to see them flash across the night sky again this week.
How can I watch the SpaceX launch?
The 60 Starlink satellites will be launched from a Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday (23 June), which will lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 22:58 BST (17:58 EDT).
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite constellation that is being constructed by American company SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk.
The firm sends satellites up into the Earth’s orbit in batches of 60, with launches taking place in mid-March and April.
So far, the firm has deployed nearly 500 satellites into space and is working towards a network of 12,000, with the aim of improving global internet coverage.
The satellites appear in a line crossing the night sky and their current orbital position has made them easier to spot in the past few days.
The recently launched satellites have been seen by Brits in Derbyshire, Manchester, London, Leeds, and across Europe.
When can I spot the satellites?
If you haven’t yet caught a glimpse of the satellites, there will be a chance to spot them in the night sky across the UK this week.
This is when the satellites will be visible:
Tuesday 23 June - 3.38am. Starlink-8 and 9 will be visible over the UK for two minutes, travelling from south to southeast.
Wednesday 24 June - 3.26am. Starlink-8 and 9 will be visible over the UK for one minutes, travelling from south to southeast.
How do I track their location?
A number of stargazing apps and websites enable people to track the current locations of the satellites.
A popular site is Findstarlink.com, where users can see the timings of when and where Starlink is likely to be visible next.
Simply visit the website and enter your location to find the time when the satellites will be visible in your area.
Why are they so visible?
Many of the satellites that were sent up in March appear very bright in the sky, but it is their current orbital position that has made them much easier to spot over the past few days.
Their close proximity to Earth and their large size, complete with wide flat panels which reflect light, make them appear much brighter in the sky.
However, SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk said the company was “fixing” the brightness of the satellites to make them less visible, stating it was due to the angle of the satellites’ solar panels.
The company is working on a “sunshade” that will help to reduce reflection of the satellites in future launches, making them less easy to spot from Earth.
The rocket will carry the Starlink satellites into orbit, before attempting to land at sea.