“Wow!! I am in shock!! The huge amount of Starlink satellites crossed our skies tonight at [the observatory],” she said. “Our DECam exposure was heavily affected by 19 of them! The train of Starlink satellites lasted for over 5 minutes!! Rather depressing… This is not cool!”
But astronomers fear that the more crowded low Earth orbit becomes, the more light will interfere with their telescopes’ observations.
Satellites on Earth
The most visible, like the International Space Station, are in low Earth orbit, and are easier to spot in the summer, when the sun shines for longer periods — thus, satellites have more time to reflect it.
And many, many more satellites could join those already in orbit. SpaceX has permission from regulators to launch more than 10,000 satellites, and recently requested adding 30,000 more.
In response to the initial uproar in May, Musk asserted that the Starlink satellites wouldn’t impact astronomical observations.
Reached by CNN on Wednesday, a SpaceX spokesperson responded that it is speaking with leading astronomy groups to find ways that the satellites won’t disrupt their work. On a more tactical level, it’s also making the base color of Starlink satellites black, which it hopes will help. If it needs to, SpaceX says it can adjust some of the satellites’ orbits, too.
In other words: they’re listening.