Will LEOs mean the End of Star-gazing?

If you enjoy the practice of observing the Milky Way and countless stars in a very dark sky, like I do, you may want to plan to do it more often this year while you still can. The skies may soon be much brighter at night due to thousands of new Low Earth Orbit satellites being launched into space. These satellites will be used to provide very fast internet connections. Billions of dollars are being invested because of the potential for making huge returns.

Last year I had the pleasure of viewing a dark sky while in Devil’s Canyon in Canyonlands, Utah, near Moab. Utah has the most certified dark sky parks.

Starlink aims to launch up to 6,000 LEOS in the next 5 years, with a total of 42 Thousand eventually. Amazon has plans for over 3,600 . And China announced a goal of 13,000. And these are just the ones I found. There are other companies hoping to cash in on the satellite internet gold rush.

But not everyone is happy about it. Astronomers are warning of the end of dark skies. I’m not sure how many LEOS it will take to really mess up the view of the sky, but it seems like you’d need a lot.

Opposition is growing and demand for regulation is increasing. Here is one recently formed organization with a mission to protect dark skies. https://cps.iau.org/

For more details, see https://phys.org/news/2023-03-astronomers-alarm-pollution-satellites.html and https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lsquo-unsustainable-rsquo-how-satellite-swarms-pose-a-rising-threat-to-astronomy/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/satellite-constellations-could-harm-the-environment-new-watchdog-report-says/

“Mega constellations are vast groups of spacecraft, numbering in the thousands, that could spark a multitrillion-dollar orbital industry and transform global connectivity and commerce. But the rise of mega constellations also threatens to clutter the night sky, disrupt the work of some astronomers and create space debris that harms people on Earth and in space alike.”

And for industry news, see https://www.satellitetoday.com

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
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3 comments

  1. Little worries. By the time they put that many in LEO, watch for the fireworks when they start crashing into each other! 😉
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

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