Reply To: Dark Skies and Satellites in the News

Forums Dark Skies Dark Skies and Satellites in the News Reply To: Dark Skies and Satellites in the News

Howard Lawrence

This is a thought-provoking article, from the ‘Big Think’ website, reiterating concerns about satellite and LED proliferation. For example, “as of 15th November 2023…there are some ~9000 active satellites, with Starlink making up more than 5000 of them and putting humanity at the greatest risk yet …” The article goes on to describe two potential technological work arounds for astronomical imaging.
But what about star gazing? I worry that this could soon become something that humans used to do. Visual observers should be aware that skies in some places are brightening by 10% a year, reportedly. This is caused by LED intensification and uncontrolled satellite proliferation. Even with 2% per year expansion in sky glow domes, compounding means that we have a very short time, perhaps just a decade, before looking up at the sky at night becomes not worth the effort.
We may be able to use electronically enhanced instruments to see the sky in near real time, but this is an experience mediated by technology and the means to pay for it. It is not an authentic human experience. Does that matter? With the prospect of satellite driven light pollution dominating our skies will the notion of dark sky reserves become redundant.
Some things to ponder if you are out this weekend hoping to see a Leonid.