There are star survey telescopes in space, and on Earth. I don't really know how to begin to know where they will all be looking for the next few months. On the off-chance that someone does, or can suggest how to find out in a systematic way, I thought I would ask here.

These is JPL's Horizons predictions for the Roadster spacecraft in its heliocentric orbit. They are based on both the last state vector readings from the spacecraft itself plus several optical sightings my medium sized telescopes.

While the car is fairly small, it's still attached to the white, 2nd stage rocket body, so it continues to reflect a bit of light. You can read more and see some astronomical photos in this answer and read this answer for info.

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  • $\begingroup$ Answering this would be a massive undertaking, if even possible. It would involve charting the expected path of the roadster, converting that path to observation coordinates, finding the observing coordinates of major telescopes at specific points in the future (if that information is even available), seeing if the roadster intersects any planned observations, looking up the observation details and telescope parameters to see the limiting magnitude the observation, doing some sort of calculation to get the roadster's magnitude, and finally checking if the roadster is visible. Good luck... $\endgroup$
    – zephyr
    Mar 21, 2018 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @zephyr I have already plotted the expected path of Roadster in the question in RA and Dec. For the next six months it is between 13h and 16h in RA, and between -10 and -30 in Dec. This is only about 2% of 4𝜋 steradians. Chances are that either no surveys are close, or perhaps only one. I've also plotted the estimated visual magnitude of Roadster for the duration as well. That might be enough to exclude most of the surveys instantly. If you take another look at the question as asked, I think you will find this is easier than you've stated. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 21, 2018 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ I expect that astronomers have a database of surveys and software to find if/when a particular patch of sky has been surveyed. Possibly this could include (projected) future surveys. You could Ask this. $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2018 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ @KeithMcClary I'm not familliar with a "database of surveys", certainly not something simple enough and easy enough to read that I could understand it. If there is such a thing, that would be great to know. If someone knows of it and can read/understand it, then they can readily answer this question. If you do, please consider leaving and answer, or at least a comment with a link to it. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 22, 2018 at 6:14

1 Answer 1


Well I can't give a mathematically based answer. I can only tell that some man-made objects were recorded by sky surveys. E.g. the Rosetta spacecraft was marked as a newly found asteroid by the Catalina Sky survey although the error was corrected quite quickly. Rosetta made an earth flyby at this time so it was pretty close.

The SpaceX Tesla will probably not come close to earth for quite a time and as such it probably won't show up in any survey.

  • $\begingroup$ It is fading this summer and will be at +28 magnitude by September 1st according to the data shown, but if it happened to fly through a deep sky survey or even any series of repeated, long-ish exposures sensitive to fain stars this summer, it could still be potentially picked up if depending on the type of image analysis is done. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 18, 2018 at 8:26

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