2019 June 14
The Starlink Satellite Constellation
The BAA is passionate about preserving our night sky environment and is very concerned about the recent launch of sixty low Earth orbit satellites by the SpaceX corporation. This is a first tranche of their Starlink constellation which has 7,000 approved but plans to extend to 12,000. Other businesses also plan to launch constellations too, so in the future if un-regulated access continues to be allowed, then there may be tens of thousands of spacecraft in low Earth orbit.
Already astronomers battle with satellite trails across images and disturbing our visual views of the night sky. With the proposed significant increase of satellites in low Earth orbit this may become worse by orders of magnitude at certain times of the night. The problem is particularly acute at high latitudes where the satellites are illuminated all night during the summer.
The BAA welcomes the unanimity of the astronomical communities, both professional and amateur, in highlighting these issues (see links below).
The BAA President has written to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk expressing our grave concerns. We hope that SpaceX and other businesses working on similar projects will look for ways to mitigate their impacts on our night sky environment.
Many BAA members have observed the initial Starlink constellation, and images can be found on Members’ Pages and on the Forum.
NRAO and GBO: https://greenbankobservatory.org/joint-nrao-and-gbo-statement/
Royal Astronomical Society: https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/news/ras-statement-starlink-satellite-constellation