Elon Musk’s SpaceX satellites clutter the skies, frustrating astronomers

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s hundreds of satellites cluttering up the galaxy.

A plethora of massive internet satellites launched by eco-friendly billionaire Elon Musk are swirling overhead — and astronomers are trying mightily to figure out how to deal with the sun’s glaring reflection off those man-made orbiters.

“There’s almost no place in the sky that you won’t see a satellite going by,” the American Astronomical Society’s Rick Feinberg told The Post.

Already, the trails from these satellite necklaces have stained images taken by world-class telescopes. And skygazers are worried about the long-lasting effects on scientific research — especially with Musk’s SpaceX, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’ Project Kuiper and OneWeb, a venture co-owned by the British government and Indian mobile giant Bharti Global, planning to launch tens of thousands of satellites over the next few years.

Amazon’s 3,236 satellites aren’t off the ground yet and OneWeb has only about 70 out of 700 orbiting right now, but SpaceX already has 750 up and expects to eventually operate more than 40,000. SpaceX, which delayed a mission Friday because of the weather, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“There is no way to avoid an impact of the satellites on ground-based astronomy,” said astronomer Jeff Hall, the director of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. “Even if satellites are invisible to the unaided eye, they are blindingly bright to modern research telescopes.”

A particular worry is what the satellites will do to a decade-long project slated to start in 2022 by the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. The 27-foot telescope, being built by the National Science Foundation and the Energy Department, will be coupled to a gigantic digital camera that takes snapshots of the heavens every three days.


View Slideshow

Source: Read Full Article