# Taking a picture of Starlink satellites

I really want to take pictures of Starlink satellites, but I am fairly new to this kind of photography so I have a few questions.

1. What is the best lense to use and do I need any additional filters?
2. How do I point my camera at the spot where the satellite will pass through, do I need some kind of tracker for it?

• It really depends on what you want and expect. Try what you habe at hand and experiment. No filters needed – planetmaker Apr 26 '20 at 23:18
• Now that this has been migrated you might consider un-accepting my answer and waiting for some real astrophotographers to chime in! – uhoh Apr 28 '20 at 16:01

I'm going to write a short answer to get you going.

Here is a random link that claims to track StarLink satellites after launch, it might be helpful to predict when a newly launched train of satellites passes over your location, I don't know.

It's not secure and it asks you for personal information. There are instructions in URGENT – Time change for tonight’s Starlink Satellite Train visible over Washington County where there is also this video that can give you some idea what kind of pointing and field of view might work.

Okay on with the question:

What is the best lense to use and do I need any additional filters?

You don't want a long focal length lens, use a normal or somewhat wide-angle lens. Your best strategy is to search the internet or other Stack Exchange sites for examples that you like and then just see what they use. Satellites move across a big chunk of sky and their visibility is limited by what fraction of their path is in sunlight.

Photography SE has over 300 questions tagged astrophotography and it seems 17 posts also contain "satellite'.

How do I point my camera at the spot where the satellite will pass through, do I need some kind of tracker for it?

If you know what satellite you want to photo, then there are many websites and programs available to predict when they will pass and where in the sky to look. I use a python program called Skyfield but in-the-sky.org and heavens-above are two websites that are very useful. This has been covered in more detail in other answers here and in other sites.

Even if the trail goes all the way across the sky, it won't always be sunlit, so look west for a few hours after sunset or east a few hours before sunrise. During the middle of the night only satellites in very high orbits will be in sunlight and therefore visible. For more on that see answers to Why do satellites appear to move faster when overhead and slower closer to the horizon?

Satellites move very roughly 1 degree per second, but it varies a lot depending on where they are in the sky (overhead vs near the horizon) and their altitude (see below). So if you tracked them everything else would be a complete blur and your satellite would just be a dot. For more on that again see answers to Why do satellites appear to move faster when overhead and slower closer to the horizon?

If you track the motion of the stars which is only 0.004 degrees per second, then you could expose for a long time and get many stars to show up in your photos. The satellite track will then be a roughly straight line across your photo. That's what most satellite photos look like.

But if you have a short focal length lens and your exposures are only a few minutes, I don't think tracking is necessary at all, just use a tripod. Sometimes people program their cameras to take a new photo every say 10 or 30 seconds and they stack them together later with small shifts so that the stars don't appear to move or blur. In that case they have to process the background objects on the horizon separately or else they'll be blurred.

Have fun!

• Have more fun: get a really good equatorial tracking mount, slap in an adaptive optic system,.... ( it's only money) – Carl Witthoft Apr 27 '20 at 15:17

People are using their cell phone for astro photography. Some cells allow long exposures. One of those cell phones and a solid method of mounting could easily catch satellite trails when you find out how to find the satellites.

Personally I only use astro video cameras or very sensitive still cameras made for near live astro viewing. Look into video/near live astronomy. It's a whole new ball game that many traditional amateur astronomers know little about.

Google "Satellite Tracking" for openers. There is just too much information and too many ways to do what you would like to do.

There was a good PC app available called Satellite Tracker that could control a Meade or Celestron to follow any satellite across the sky. See if you can find it somewhere.

Do you have any cameras other than your cell? Hard to recommend lenses otherwise.

I have cameras, lenses and software that will allow me to track, video and or photograph the International Space Station with enough detail to recognize it as the ISS. I also have a camera the has the entire sky as the field of view. It will catch satellite trails. That sort of make it difficult to suggest any lens in particular.

Do a little snooping around and see what you can do with what equipment you have available. If you can take a few photos of the sky in general. You have to start somewhere and I'm afraid the easy button is broken. :)