Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites photobombed Comet Covet in a photographer’s striking image




Elon Musk Presented for Camera: Elon Musk plans to surround the Earth with Starlink satellites to provide global high-speed, low-latency Internet service.  SpaceX;  Kevork Zanzian / Getty;  business Insider


© SpaceX; Kevork Zanzian / Getty; business Insider
Elon Musk plans to surround the Earth with Starlink satellites to provide global high-speed, low-latency Internet service. SpaceX; Kevork Zanzian / Getty; business Insider

Elon Musk, a growing constellation of Internet satellites, has been sending strong light streaks across the night sky around the world. It was not even the largest comet to have passed the Earth in 25 years.

A photo showing Comet Noyce behind those lines of light shows how easily satellites can observe distant objects in space.



A Blue Sky: A train of Starlink satellites passes in front of Comet Neovis.  Daniel lopez


© Daniel Lopez
A train of Starlink satellites passes in front of Comet Neowise. Daniel lopez

The satellite project, called Starlink, is Musk’s plan to blanket the Earth with high-speed satellite Internet. The effort has attracted criticism from professional and amateur astronomers, however, as bright satellites can marry into the sky and disrupt telescopic observations.

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The same happened to astrophotographer Daniel Lopez on July 21, when he was shooting Comet Noyce before flying for over 6,800 years. He shared the resulting image on the Facebook page of his photography company El Cielo de Canaria, saying that it is a shame to see satellites such a spectacle.

Lopez’s photograph is a combination of 17 images taken in 30-second intervals. Each image was long-exposure, meaning it caught the comet in several seconds.

Astronomer Julian Girard shared this photo Twitter, Saying that the satellites had “fully photobombed” the comet.

“The other night two of my photos were also bombed by a Starlink [satellite], ”Said Girdhar.

Lopez also shared a time-lapse video behind the photo. He said that the traces of the satellites were visible in his 20 images.

Because it is an overall time lapse, the image does not show what you will see with the naked eye. But this explains why many astronomers worry about the danger that satellite constellations such as Starlink point toward ground-based astronomy.

Many satellites could have played with astronomy on Earth

Long-risk images are important when studying distant objects in the night sky. Telescopes on Earth watch celestial targets for hours, gradually creating a detailed image that provides rich data to astronomers.

But a poorly timed Starlink satellite can ruin that kind of research by creating a long streak across the image and blocking objects intended for astronomers to study.



A hint was given at night: An astronomer in the Netherlands caught the Starlink train flying across the sky immediately after its launch on May 24, 2019.  Vimeo / SatTrackCam Leiden


© Vimeo / SatTrackCam Leiden
An astronomer in the Netherlands caught the Starlink train zooming into the sky, soon after its launch on May 24, 2019. Vimeo / SatTrackCam Leiden

“In that one-two second, the entire 10- or 15-minute exposure is wasted,” he told June’s Business Insider.

SpaceX is sharing StarLink’s orbital path data with astronomers so that they can plan their telescope observations around the satellites’ movements. Briefly shutting down the camera because long-risk image can be saved by passing over the satellite.

But Musk’s ambitions may make it nearly impossible to avoid fast-growing satellites. SpaceX has sought permission from the government to make a total of 42,000 satellites “megaconstellation” around the Earth.

“If they are coming all the time, when they are coming, it is not helpful to know,” McDowell said. Even now, he said, sometimes astronomers cannot escape photobombers.



The first batch of 60 high-speed Starlink Internet satellites, each weighing around 500 pounds, was flat-packed into the stack on 23 May 2019 before boarding a Falcon 9 rocket.  SpaceX via Twitter


© SpaceX via Twitter
The first batch of 60 high-speed Starlink Internet satellites, each weighing around 500 pounds, was flat-packed into the stack on 23 May 2019 before boarding a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX via Twitter

SpaceX is not the only company to build a huge fleet of satellites. Companies like OneWeb and Amazon have similar ambitions.

Lauz told Gizmodo, “The sky will not be what it has been for millions of years. Thousands of dots will appear in the night sky and disappear.” “I personally think that if no action is taken, it will be the end of astronomy as we know it from the surface of the Earth.”

Professional astronomers have given similar strict warnings.

“The night sky is for everyone, it has been investigated and used for millennia,” Girard said. “We must cherish it and protect it like our earth.”

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