Satellites vs. Stars

Space X’s massive launch of 60 satellites in May, with thousands more scheduled to low-orbit Earth soon, is threatening to cloud the natural view of the night sky, scientists charge.

That’s because a solar energy panel on each satellite that absorbs, then reflects light to Earth, is so bright it outshines starlight.

The 227-kilogram satellites are intended to connect all of the world to the internet. Although it’s all for a good cause, the increasing crush of orbiting satellites threaten to interfere with the scientific research of the cosmos.

SpaceX’s 60 Starlink satellites just before being released in May. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX’s 60 Starlink satellites just before being released in May
Credit: SpaceX

“This has the potential to change what a natural sky looks like,” astronomer  Tyler Nordgren told the New York Times.

And our natural stargazing experience is only going to get worse as more businesses, such as Amazon and Telesat, are slated to send up their private satellites.

Not only that, the satellites operate on two radio frequencies that scientists use to map how galaxies formed after the Big Bang.

“It truly is the tip of the iceberg, especially as we get into a world where you have multi-billionaires with the ability and the desire to do things like this,” Nordgren  added.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk claims the satellites will barely be visible and only just before sunrise and right after sunset.

But many scientists insist the satellites can still be glimpsed with the naked eye on summer nights.