According to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), satellites could be a massive threat to the scientific study of celestial objects. What solutions are out there?
There are already a significant number of satellites orbiting the Earth, and with SpaceX plan to launch, even more, things don’t look very promising for astronomy experts. 60 of Starlink satellites were just released a while ago.
Scientists believe that satellites are a threat to astronomy
“We are used to some satellites crossing the night sky, but now we’re talking about thousands, some that would be bright enough to see with the human eye,” said Piero Benvenuti, an adviser at the executive committee of the IAU.
SpaceX is not the only company that plans to launch more satellites, Amazon, OneWeb, and Canada are also following suit with a high number of “constellations.” SpaceX and OneWeb share the goal of bringing internet connectivity to every corner of the globe.
The threat that these “constellations” poses is the loss of the night sky, and that is on top of the light pollution. Experts also include the one billion dollars worth of the ground-based Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.
“Apart from their naked-eye visibility, it is estimated that the trails of the constellation satellites will be bright enough to saturate modern detectors on large telescopes,” the IAU announcement said. “Wide-field scientific astronomical observations will, therefore, be severely affected.”
Satellites’ effect on astronomical observations
After the launch of the Starlink satellites, there was a visible change in the night sky. Besides astronomers, even amateurs could see the difference, and both parties shared their findings with the rest of the world. Photos, as well as videos, prove the satellites’ effect to the sky.
“The appearance of the pristine night sky, particularly when observed from dark sites, will nevertheless be altered because the new satellites could be significantly brighter than existing orbiting man-made objects,” relates the IAU statement.