For modern astronomers, satellites are part of life. There are now more than 2,000 active people holding Earth in orbit, and the smartest minds in space photography have managed to find smart ways to remove flying from time to time.
But then there's Starlink. The first stages of SpaceX's 42,000 satellite broadcasting plan to provide full Internet coverage to the World have so far taken place on 122 objects; After the first major launch in May, astronomers were worried.
Now a second launch has taken place and concerns have really started to come true.
Wow!! I am in shock !! Many Starlink satellites passed through our skies tonight @cerrotololo. DECam exposure was severely affected by 19 people! Starlink satellites took more than 5 minutes! On the contrary, it was depressing… This is not nice! pic.twitter.com/gk0ekbplj to
Browse latest images taken by – Clarae Martínez-Vázquez (@ 89Marvaz). November 18, 2019
Early in the morning on November 18, at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Northern Chile, traces of newly released Starlink satellites certainly filled an image captured by the Dark Energy Camera (DECam).
In the picture below, each of these dotted line tracks is a Starlink satellite.
As he took about 40 exposures of Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, SpaceX's Starlink satellite train entered the camera's vision 90 minutes before sunlight, sparkling in the early morning light and took five minutes to get out of the telescope's field of view.
CTIO astronomer Clara Martinez-Vazquez said, “Wow !! I am in shock ”. Twitter & # 39; from. 19 satellite paths, which is much more than a normal satellite transition.
Although sleep is often dark in the night sky (still causing some problems), when the sky is still black immediately after sunset or early in the morning, sunlight can still make the satellites visible by hitting them. Both with fancy astronomy telescopes and only regular old binoculars.
"When things are sunny, they're bright enough to pick up with binoculars and anything bigger," said Cees Bassa Forbes of the Dutch Radio Astronomy Institute.
And astronomers are not affected. As we have already reported, they have brought up some major problems with Starlink. First, there will be many of these objects in orbit that can greatly influence the way astronomers see and listen to the sky.
Bir A complete constellation of Starlink satellites would probably mean the end of Earth-centered microwave radio telescopes, which could scan the skies for weak radio objects, Alan Swinburne astronomer Alan Duffy told ScienceAlert in May after the first launch of Starlink satellites in May.
The second batch of 60 Starlink satellites was launched on November 11th, less than a week ago, so they have not yet reached their final operational altitude – but this is expected to be lower than for the first party.
Sky observers also find that Starlink is more reflective than other satellites. If thousands of extra satellites were not a problem in their own right, it was another thing that astronomers pulled their hair out of being extra bright.
Accepted, he sent a note last week to the Starlink team, specifically about the reduction of albedo. When the satellites grow in orbit and arrays come to the sun, we will understand its value better.
– Elon Musk @elonmusk Instagram Profile Photo May 27, 2019
Astronomers can remove traces of a Starlink swan when it appears, but most of the information that scientists use is not in the beautiful photographs we see, but in the raw images. In addition, removing one satellite track from one image is one thing to remove the other.
So far, some people make fun of social media on SpaceX's Elon Musk.
Find out latest images taken by – 💫 Astro Noel 💫 (@astro_noel). November 18, 2019
It is still unclear how astronomers and SpaceX can solve these conflicting needs, but with two launches planned this year, there is one last chance we can't hear about this problem.