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Fri, 17 May


Institute of Astronomy

CAA: Dark Skies

Dr Robert Massey, Deputy Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society, will bring us up to date with the challenges facing us all as light trails from satellites become an even bigger problem.

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CAA: Dark Skies
CAA: Dark Skies

Time & Location

17 May 2024, 20:00 – 21:00

Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Rd, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK

About The Event

65 years ago the Soviet Union placed the first satellite in space. There are now around 5,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO), the region up to 2,000 km above the ground, and their deployment is accelerating. 2019 saw the launch of Starlink, a satellite constellation built and launched by SpaceX, a system that on its own could soon have more than 30,000 spacecraft deployed. With other operators we could soon see up to 300,000 satellites in LEO by the end of this decade.  

This is nothing less than a step change in our use of space. And like most paradigm shifts, it will have significant consequences. A key example is how it will affect the science of astronomy and our view of the sky. Some estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 10 'stars' visible could be satellites, and professional and amateur astronomers alike now face significant challenges to our work. As a result our community has mobilised, working at a national, international and global level to tackle a complex problem, and to try to find a balance between the positive results of boosting communications and the impact on the space environment.  

Robert will set out the problem, what it means for scientists and the wider public, and what we can do about it.

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