10 thoughts on “Satellite Internet And Astronomy”

  1. I don’t want to see astronomical research harmed by satellite megaconstellations, but I can’t sympathize with people who expect a pristine night sky with nothing visible but celestial objects. We left that world behind decades ago. I have always been thrilled to spot a satellite passing overhead in the evening sky. One of my earliest memories was of seeing my first satellite on a warm summer night, sitting with my family and our neighbors in their back yard. I was enchanted by the sight of the mysterious object smoothly transiting the heavens – quiet, unblinking. In later years I decided it was probably Echo 1, launched in August 1960 with an apparent magnitude about 1.0.

    I wouldn’t want to go out every night and see satellites swarming like gnats. But I’d love to be able to spot a train of just-launched Starlink satellites occasionally. If they can make them dim enough to not interfere with telescopes once they’re on station I hope we can all live with that.

  2. I think the article could have been a lot clearer about the fact that Elon’s satellites will only be visible near dawn and dusk. During the rest of the night, when viewing of most astronomical objects is best anyway, they will be practically invisible.

  3. I think this will be a transitory (sorry for the pun) problem. Future Starlink satellites will likely incorporate optical stealth technology through some form of non reflective coating or shape. I know they are working on it.
    Since even amateur astronomy is going digital it will also be possible to filter out linear streaks in captured images using software.

    1. SpaceX is experimenting with reduced reflectivity coatings to reduce their satellites’ brightness, but that risks causing the satellites to absorb more heat which can cause them to overheat.

  4. If we end up with a spacefaring civilization, there’s going to be a lot of junk in orbit. Actual junk, giant inflatable high-magnitude mirrors, transmitters eating every available part of the spectrum along every line of sight, overt satellites, covert satellites, radiators, panels, etc etc.

    It’ll definitely rain on their parade.

    On the other hand, we’ll be able to launch a lot of space-telescopes that will hopefully be able to get away from the noise. Lunar farside observatory has been a trope for a while.

    1. It is amusing that with the limitless bounty of the solar system at our fingertips, that people always want to muck up the Moon. Baby steps are for babies, a people who hold themselves in such high regard, as today’s society does, should be capable of looking beyond immediate gratification to the larger rewards that come from patience and perseverance.

  5. I just hope the junk-junk problem is solvable. I favor high energy lasers to vaporize small objects.

    If that’s unchecked, we might have problems reaching space.

    1. Orbiting lasers to de-orbit fragments by vaporizing the leading edge to deaccelerate them. Smaller pieces, like paint flakes, can be vaporized.

  6. The article is not a good a good overview of the problem, unless the problem is uninformed journalists who have no understanding of their subject matter. (as I think may be the case here).

    The problem is the Sun. The sats only reflect light, they do not emit it. Therefor, when they are not in sunlight, they are not reflecting light. And, in LEO, that means the time when the sats will have an impact is (for most latitudes) within an hour of dawn or dusk. For the rest of the night, they will not be a problem, because there is no light for them to reflect (due to the sats being in Earth’s shadow). Odd, isn’t it, that this gets no mention?

    I moved to the high mountains in part so I’d have a real night sky, not the light-ruined city version. I am also no fan of Starlink, and I oppose Oneweb because of the orbital height (space junk issue; at that height, it’s a massive risk). However, it irks me a lot to see this issue being spun in such blatantly false ways.

    Oh, and as for the article, this gem cannot pass unremarked;
    “Some objects, such as comets, are better viewed during dawn and dusk, when there’s just enough sunlight to illuminate them.”

    Um, no, that’s not how it works. Comets are sometimes viewed close to dawn or dusk because they are near perihelion, and thus close to the sun in angle from our perspective.

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