How many manmade satellites can you see with the naked eye?
How many of the artificial satellites orbiting our planet can you see with the unaided eye?
Asked by Paul Francis
Surprisingly there are a large portion of manmade satellites that can be seen with the naked eye. Sightings can number up to a hundred in a single night if you have good viewing conditions.
To identify a satellite you are looking for a star that looks like it is slowly moving across the night sky. On average they are visible for several minutes although some can be present for longer. The important thing to note is that unlike a plane, most satellites do not ‘blink’ or flash (unless they reflect the light of the Sun directly towards Earth, such as an Iridium flare). They remain a steady brightness and follow consistent speed and direction across the sky. Occasionally they can disappear if they move into Earth’s shadow. So next time you find yourself away from a city in a dark rural area, study the sky for these slow moving objects and see how many you can spot.
Answered by Josh Barker at the National Space Centre
Image courtesy of NASA