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1 point of light out of 15 will soon be a satellite!

If the sky is getting brighter and brighter, it is not because of the stars but because of the huge constellations of satellites scattered there. So much so that an astronomer predicts that soon it will be one satellite out of every fifteen light points in the night sky. But what does it matter because many of us in urban areas no longer see the stars lighting up the sky.

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I’m out on my farm in Saskatchewan talking to my neighbors I’ve invited to look at the sky nocturnal With me telescope. After exclamation and wonder at Saturn’s rings And the light that traveled through space for more than two million years ago Andromeda Galaxy To reach our sight, our conversation inevitably veers towards EpidemicOur organization for remote work and complaints about it Internet in rural areas. Gary mentions in passing that he just changed the resource starlink.

I looked up and noticed a bright satellite moving across the sky. probably starlink, because they now represent nearly half of the oligarchs 4000 working satellites And they are especially wonderful. I took a deep breath and thought about how we would discuss the cost we would all have to pay for Starlink Internet access.

I don’t blame my neighbors for their choice. Here, as in many rural areas of North America, there is no Not much accessibility To the Internet, and given that many people are working and studying from home during the pandemic, we want to do everything to make our lives easier.

However, I know how expensive it is. My article to appear in Astronomical Journal Gifts Predictions what the night sky will look like If the satellite companies continue with their current projects. I also know that due to the light geometry of Soleil and the orbitals The Chosen One, the 50e The northern parallel, where I live, will be the hardest hit part of the world.

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In the absence of regulation, I know that in the near future a Point out of 15 visible In the sky will be a satellite moving relentlessly, not star. This would be disastrous for astronomical research and would completely change the night sky around the world.

In order to determine how affected the night sky is by reflected sunlight from future mega-satellites, we designed Free PC Model to predict brightness Satellites as seen from different places on Earth, at different times of the night and at different times seasons. We have also created a file Simple web app Based on this simulation.

Simulation of brightness and number of satellites over an entire night to parallel 50°N at the summer solstice. © Sam Lawler

Our model uses 65,000 satellites in the orbits of the four huge companies: SpaceX Starlink et Amazon Kuiper (United State), OneWeb (UK) and StarNet/GW (China). We have calibrated our simulation to match Telescopic measurements of the Starlink satellites, because they are by far the most numerous.

According to our research, we will not be able to escape this new light pollution from satellites anywhere on Earth, not even in the Arctic.

starlink It’s made some progress in dimming the glare of its satellites since it was first launched, but Most of it is still visible to the naked eye. Our simulations show that from anywhere in the world and in any season, we will be able to see dozens or even hundreds of satellites for at least an hour before sunrise and after sunset.

Nowadays, it is relatively easy to escape from light pollution town to take advantage of the starry sky while camping or going to a chalet, but according to our research, we won’t be able to escape this new light pollution Satellites are anywhere on Earth, not even in the Arctic.

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The worst affected places on Earth will be at 50 degrees north and south, near cities like London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Kiev, Vancouver, Calgary and my home. in a Summer Solstice, for this latitudes, approximately 200 satellites will be visible inEye Naked all night.

I study dynamics orbital From kuiper belt, consisting of small objects located behind Neptune. My research is based on large-scale and long-range images Duration Exhibition To discover and follow these little things Learn more about the history solar system.

Telescope observations, which are essential to our knowledge being, is about to become very difficult To achieve success due to the unregulated development of space.

Astronomers are developing Reduction StrategiesHowever, they will require the time and effort that large-scale builders must put up with.

environmental costs

Starlink internet may seem cheaper than other options in rural areas, but that’s because you are Empty a lot of costs. One of them is the air pollution caused by the release of hundreds of missiles Necessary to build and maintain this system.

Every satellite deployment sends missile parts and other debris to a low earth orbit Already crowded, which increases the risk collision. part of those space debris It will eventually return to Earth, and the regions of the planet with the highest density of satellites will be More at risk of impact.

Starlink plans to replace each of the 42,000 satellites after five years of operation, which would require de-orbiting at a rate of 25 satellites per day, or about six tons of material. The mass of these satellites will not disappear – they will spread in the upper layers ofambiance. Satellites are mainly composed ofalloy Dr’Aluminium, they risk forming particles ofminimum By evaporation into the upper atmosphere, which can destroy Area It causes changes in global temperatures.

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This question has not been studied in depth because LEO is not subject to any environmental regulations.

Heaven rule

At the moment, low Earth orbit, where all these satellites are expected to evolve, is almost unregulated. There are no standards for light pollution, air pollution from release operations, air pollution from re-entry into the atmosphere, and collision between satellites.

These huge towers may not be financially viable in the long run, and internet access speeds may drop dramatically when multiple users connect at the same time or if it rains. However, satellites are launched at a rapid pace today, and the damage they do to the night sky, atmosphere, and low Earth orbit safety will not be erased, even if companies go bankrupt.

There is no doubt that in many places, people in rural and remote areas have been left behind in the development of Internet access. But there are many other options that do not involve such high costs. We can not accept the global loss to reach night sky, which humans have been able to observe and which they have been able to communicate with since the beginning of their existence.

if Companies cooperated Instead of competing, there could be far fewer satellites in orbit. Changing the design of the satellites could make them darker, reducing their impact on the night sky. We don’t have to choose between astronomy and the Internet.

However, without regulations requiring change, or strong Pressure From consumers who explains the importance of the night sky, our vision for it stars soon forever.

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