In an attempt to enable high-speed internet all over the world, SpaceX has launched 540 Starlink satellites into orbit so far. The planned number is 12,000, but they’re already ruining the party for astronomers and astrophotographers alike. Daniel López recently tried taking a photo of the comet Neowise, but Starlink satellites ruined it completely.
SpaceX’s Starlink satellites have been controversial since before the first round of them were launched. Having recently launched more, which is going to keep happening for a while, the debates have sparked up again. There are currently 422 of the anticipated 12,000 (with 30,000 more applied for) Starlink satellites floating around our planet, and they’re already upsetting people.
The two main reasons (if we remove all the tinfoil hat conspiracies) are that they will ruin our view of the night sky, which really sucks for astrophotography, and that it will make certain scientific studies all but impossible due to their overpowering brightness relative to the dim lights littered throughout the universe. Elon Musk has now said, though, they’re working on making them dimmer.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have captured a photograph of the aurora australis shot from somewhere over the Indian Ocean, along with a train of 16 of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites – a handful of the almost-12,000 they expect to launch over the next few years.
The SpaceX Starlink network of satellites has been a somewhat controversial concept. Its goal is to create a global broadband internet system that allows everybody to have easy access to fast data. From a technological standpoint, it’s pretty amazing. But even if we ignore the tinfoil hat conspiracies, not everybody is pleased with the idea.
Astronomers have been worried about the effect of satellites, as heir increasing number in the orbit is posing a problem for night skies observation. We can’t do anything to remove them – but we can now help monitor the problem. With its new project Satellite Streak Watcher, NASA asks everyone to help to track the population growth of satellites over time. And all you need is a smartphone camera.
The first batch of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites was launched in May this year, making astronomers worried about how they would affect the night sky. Now that the second batch has been launched, the astronomers’ concerns are becoming a reality.
On Monday 18 November, two astronomers checked the image of their remotely operated telescope in Chile. But instead of a clear night sky, they saw a bunch of light trails from Starlink satellites.
On Tuesday, 6 August, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. After the successful launch, Elon Musk tweeted a video that got even more social media attention than the launch itself. The video shows a SpaceX ship catching the rocket’s fairing as it falls from space, and it’s a perfect catch!
On 23 May, the first 60 SpaceX’s Starlink satellites were successfully launched into orbit. They were caught on camera and they look spectacular while orbiting around the Earth together. However, the ultimate plan is to launch nearly 12,000 of these satellites. Have you wondered how it will affect the night skies? Astronomers are concerned that they will pollute the night sky, and astrophotography is only one of the areas that could be hindered by this many satellites in the orbit.
Last December, we featured a timelapse from photographer and filmmaker Jesse Watson. The timelapse was of the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch near Yuma, Arizona. Well, a couple of nights ago, another one launched and landed from California – the first time Elon’s launched and landed in California. Jesse went out to capture it again and this one’s just as incredible as the last.
Did you dream of flying to the moon when you were a kid? I know I did. It seemed impossible back then, but in a few years’ time, the first civilian will travel to the moon – and he has decided to bring a photographer along.
Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa will be SpaceX’s first space tourist who will fly to the moon in 2023, and he will soon announce the artistic crew who will follow him on this journey. Among other artists, he also plans to bring a photographer to capture this incredible journey.