A new satellite called the Humanity Star looks like a disco ball
Update Apr. 1, 2018.
The Humanity Star is no longer an active satellite – it has fallen out of the sky: https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/22/17144208/rocket-lab-humanity-star-satellite-new-zealand-astronomy
However, even though the Humanity Star is now gone, this article still teaches you how to load satellites into Stellarium. So, read on for a quick tutorial on how to track any satellite in Stellarium.
Looking for information on how to track
the Humanity Star any satellite location using Stellarium astronomy software?
Here is a quick tutorial on how to find
the Humanity Star any satellite using Stellarium.
Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck announced that the company’s rocket had placed a special satellite in a 90 minute orbit around the Earth.
A lot of people want to see this new “star” in the sky. Stellarium can help you do that.
Tutorial – use Stellarium to find the Humanity Star satellite
First, you have to use the satellite database which is available in the Configurations > Plugins section of Stellarium.
Click on the wrench with the star, then click the Plugins tab, then scroll down until you see “Satellites” in the list on the left.
Update the satellite data
Once you have done that (be sure to check “Load at startup” you will have a list of satellites to choose from. However, there are new objects launched into space every day, so this plugin has a button that says “Update Now”
Search for the Humanity Star
Now, open the Search panel in Stellarium and type Humanity Star and hit the return key on the keyboard or click the magnifying glass button.
Stellarium will highlight the Humanity Star. Hit the space bar to lock it into the view.
Now that Stellarium has locked the Humanity Star into the view center. You can speed up time by tapping the “L” key on the keyboard a few times. This will speed up the clock and show you where the Humanity Star is traveling in the sky.
Location, Location, Location
Editor’s Note: In the comments below, a visitor (thanks, Hector!) – who used these instructions to successfully find the object – says that you should try to establish a very accurate location in Stellarium. You should do this before locking in on the positioning and tracking of the Humanity star. I completely agree!
Make sure you use the “Location window” to enter your exact latitude and longitude – this will be helpful for all observations in Stellarium, but will be especially important with a low earth orbit object like the Humanity Star.
Predicting the brightness (magnitude) of the Humanity Star
By using this website, you can enter your location on Earth (in the top right of the page choose Location) and track many satellites and get predictions for when they will fly overhead.
The Humanity Star is one of several “satellites of special interest” so you can click on the link and see flyover predictions with magnitude estimates.
According to the satellite tracking website “Heavens Above” the Humanity Star is not one of the brightest objects in the sky. In the second week of March 2018, it ranges from magnitude 4.1 to 8.4. Magnitude 4.1 is just barely visible to the naked eye in light polluted suburban skies, but magnitude 8.4 is basically invisible under all normal viewing conditions.
I would love to hear if you were able to use these directions to find and see the Humanity Star in your area!
Clear Skies. Happy Humanity Star satellite hunting with Stellarium.