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The Royal Astronomical Society notes with concern the launch of the new SpaceX Starlink constellation of satellites into low-Earth orbit, and the potential impact of this and other programmes on views of the night sky and on astronomical research.
Starlink, and other similar networks planned by OneWeb, Amazon and Telesat, aim to provide global commercial internet coverage. Each network consists of thousands of satellites in low-Earth orbit—less than 2,000 kilometers altitude—that when fully deployed will be visible over a significant proportion of the sky from most of the inhabited world.
Orbits - Satellites - Time - Images - Constellation
In their final orbits, the satellites will be relatively faint most of the time. Initial images of the constellation though suggest that they will exhibit frequent reflective flaring, where transient alignment with sunlight leads to temporary surges in brightness.
Increasing the number of satellites so significantly presents a challenge to ground-based astronomy. The deployed networks could make it much harder to obtain images of the...
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