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posted by janrinok on Saturday November 30 2019, @12:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the has-this-been-thought-through? dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Skywatchers in Spain recording meteors being transformed into brilliant streaks of light by atmospheric compression are a bit miffed – as their view was rudely interrupted by a slew of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites.

Below is a short clip of what it looked like above La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands last week. The meteor shower known as Alpha Monocerotids crisscrossed the sky, though it becomes hard to spot them once the satellites come flooding in.

SpaceX's table-sized Starlink birds, which sport reflective solar panels, are closer and brighter as they zip across the camera’s line of sight like machine gun bullets.

Starlink satellites during a meteor shower on Nov. 22. pic.twitter.com/wJVk1qu49E

— Patrick Treuthardt, Ph.D. (@PTreuthardt)

Denis Vida, a geophysics PhD student at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, who wrote the code to generate the footage above captured from one of the Global Meteor Network’s cameras, said the obstruction happens every day.

“Note that this was not a one time occurrence,” he told The Register. “We see this every day before dawn with about half the cameras in our network. During that time we effectively lose about half our field of view because of this.

[...] “These satellites will most definitely interfere with important astronomical observations which can have implications on predicting future meteor shower outburst. Accurate meteor shower predictions are essential for understanding the hazard they pose to spacecraft – do you see the irony? – and astronauts in orbit.


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  • (Score: 2) by dry on Sunday December 01 2019, @01:43AM (2 children)

    by dry (223) on Sunday December 01 2019, @01:43AM (#926606) Journal

    Need a lot of space telescopes to equal the millions of amateur astronomers.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday December 01 2019, @05:04AM (1 child)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Sunday December 01 2019, @05:04AM (#926639) Journal

    Look at what LSST [wikipedia.org] is designed for. That's a telescope that won't become 100% useless due to Starlink, but there are already complaints about it. It has a wide field of view and can image the entire night sky every few days.

    To match the capability of amateur astronomers, you would probably want to watch the entire sky continuously, in order to capture all transient events. LSST covers 9.6 square degrees, and the sky is 41,253 square degrees. So you would need about 4,300 LSSTs. Round up to 10,000 to provide overlapping coverage.

    If you are able to compact LSST's FOV into a CubeSat form factor (with much less light collecting capability and etendue), you could theoretically launch that many in a single Starship flight. It will probably take more flights and larger telescopes but hundreds or thousands of Starship flights doesn't cost much. It comes down to how cheaply you can make telescopes. Of course, launching another 10,000 objects will baffle ground-based astronomy more. Each telescope could send back long exposures as well as a continuous live video feed.

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    • (Score: 2) by dry on Sunday December 01 2019, @06:03AM

      by dry (223) on Sunday December 01 2019, @06:03AM (#926649) Journal

      It's one way around the problem.