For the modern astronomer, satellites are only a part of life. Currently, about 2000 are active around 2000, and the smartest minds in space photography have been able to come up with clever ways to eliminate the occasional overflights from their space images.
But there is a Starlink. The first stages of SpaceX's plan to launch up to 42,000 satellites to provide Earth with full coverage on the Internet have covered up to 122 sites so far; after the first major launch in May, astronomers were alarmed.
Now a second start has happened and their worries have really come to fruition.
Wow !! I'm in shock !! A huge amount of Starlink satellites crossed our skies tonight at @cerrotololo . Our exposure to DECam was greatly affected by 19 of them! Starlink satellite train lasted over 5 minutes !! More depressing … That's not cool! pic.twitter.com/gK0ekbpLJe
– Clarae Martínez-Vázquez (@ 89Marvaz) November 18, 2019
In the early hours of the morning of November 18 at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) , the trail of the newly launched Starlink satellites flew overhead, absolutely filling in an image taken with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam).
Each of these dotted lines in the image below is a Starlink satellite.
While making about 40 exposures of small and large magellanic clouds , SpaceX's Starlink satellite train entered the camera vision about 90 minutes before sunrise, glows brightly in early morning sunlight, and took five minutes to get out of view of the telescope.
"Wow! I'm in shock," wrote CTIO astronomer Clara Martinez-Vasquez in Tweets Third . She noted that there are 19 satellite paths, which is much more than a normal satellite passage. Although most of the time satellites will be dark in the night sky (which still presents some problems), just after the sun goes down or early in the morning when the sky is still black, sunlight can still hit satellites, making them visible with both fantastic astronomical telescopes and just plain old binoculars.
"These things are big enough that when they are illuminated by the sun, they are bright enough to take something from binoculars and bigger," Sees Bass of the Netherlands Institute of Radio Astronomy told Forbes.
And astronomers are not impressed. As previously reported, they caused major problems with Starlink. First, there will be many of these objects in orbit, which can dramatically affect the way astronomers can see and listen to the sky.
"A full constellation of Starlink satellites is likely to mark the end of an Earth-based microwave oven, radio telescopes capable of scanning the sky for weak radio objects," Swinburne University astronomer Alan Duffy told ScienceAlert in May after the satellite's first launch
The second batch of 60 Starlink satellites was launched just over a week before November 11, so they have not yet reached their final operating altitude – but this altitude is expected to be lower than the first
Sky watchers also find that Starlinks are more reflective than other satellites.If thousands of additional satellites were no longer a problem in their own right, the fact that they were extra sleek is just another thing about astronomers are pulling their hair.
Agree, sent a note to the Starlink team last week, specifically regarding the reduction of the albedo, We will get a better sense of it when the satellites are orbiting and the masses are tracking the sun.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 27, 2019
Astronomers can remove traces of their images when Starlink casts in sight, but much of the information scientists use is contained in raw images, and not in the pretty pictures he sees. In addition, it is one thing to remove one satellite path from an image and another to remove 19.
So far, some people are coping with SpaceX's Ilan Musk on social media.
– stro Astro Noel @ (@astro_noel) November 18, 2019
How Astronomers and SpaceX Will Meet These Conflicting Needs It is still unknown, but with two more launches planned this year, it is likely that this may not be the last we will hear about the issue.