It’s been a month and a half since Rocket Lab sent a sparkly satellite called Humanity Star into orbit, but we’re just now getting into prime time for seeing it from the western United States.
Humanity Star is a geodesic sphere made of carbon fiber and covered with 65 reflective panels, designed specifically to twinkle in dark skies as all those panels reflect sunlight before dawn and after dusk.
The 39-inch-wide (meter-wide) satellite was sent into a nearly pole-to-pole orbit from New Zealand aboard Rocket Lab’s low-cost Electron launch vehicle in January, along with three small Earth observation satellites.
Sighting conditions depend on where the satellite is during the optimal times for viewing. During the day, of course, the satellite’s reflections are lost in the sun’s glare. During the depths of night, the satellite isn’t at the right angle to reflect sunlight.
It took until early March for Humanity Star to get into the optimal orbital phase for West Coast sightings. Between now and March 27, there should be at least one sighting opportunity every day over Seattle. Another string of sightings is due to begin on May 7.