Sunday , November 29 2020

SpaceX's Starlink satellites are messing with the observations of star watchers. Astronomers say & # 39; not cool! & # 39;

Clarae Martínez-Vázquez, astronomer of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Coquimbo, Chile, tweeted that the bright lights reflected by satellites interfered with a high-powered camera used to observe other galaxies.

"Wow !! I'm in shock !! The huge amount of Starlink satellites crossed our skies tonight at [the observatory]", she said." Our exposure to DECam was greatly affected by 19 of them! The Starlink satellite train lasted over 5 minutes !! A little depressing … That's not cool! "

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk began developing the project in 2015 to increase the on-site Internet connection. The hope is that more satellites will increase bandwidth and coverage.

But astronomers fear that the lower the earth's orbit becomes more crowded, the more light interferes with the observations of its telescopes.

Satellites on Earth

Satellites can be visible from Earth, although they are usually quite weak. But when their panels reflect an "explosion" of sunlight back to Earth, they may look brighter for a brief period, according to National Geographic.
These streaks of bright light can obstruct astronomical objects just below them and cause false signals in telescopes, Nature reports.
In March, the Union of Concerned Scientists reported that there are currently more than 2,000 satellites in orbit, although this count does not include Starlink satellites.

The most visible ones, such as the International Space Station, are in low Earth orbit and are easier to detect in summer, when the sun shines for longer periods – so satellites have more time to reflect it.

And many, many more satellites could join those already in orbit. SpaceX is allowed by regulators to launch more than 10,000 satellites and has recently requested the addition of 30,000 more.

In response to the initial upheaval in May, Musk said Starlink satellites would not affect astronomical observations.

"There are already 4,900 satellites in orbit, which people notice ~ 0% of the time," he tweeted. "Starlink will not be seen by anyone unless they look very carefully and will have ~ 0% impact on astronomical advances."

Hit by CNN on Wednesday, a SpaceX spokesman responded that he is talking to leading astronomy groups to find ways for satellites to get in the way of his work. On a more tactical level, it is also turning the base color of Starlink satellites black, which it hopes to help. If necessary, SpaceX says it can also adjust some of the satellite orbits.

In other words: they are listening.

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