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Fake star generates 'space graffiti' complaints


Posted on Saturday, 27 January, 2018 | Comment icon 27 comments

The Humanity Star is designed to be highly visible in the sky. Image Credit: Twitter / Rocket Lab
Astronomers worldwide have criticized the decision to launch a large reflective disco ball in to orbit.
Known as the 'Humanity Star', the satellite is a three-foot-wide geodesic sphere with 65 highly reflective panels designed to make it the brightest object in the night sky.

It was secretly launched last week alongside a number of conventional satellites by commercial space exploration startup firm Rocket Lab from a remote region of farmland in New Zealand.

Despite being hailed as a major success for the company however, the Humanity Star itself has drawn a significant amount of ire from scientists and astronomers from around the world.

The problem, they argue, is light pollution, which is already making it increasingly difficult to obtain a clear view of the stars. Launching what is essentially a giant disco ball in to orbit around the Earth certainly doesn't help matters and could mark the beginning of a worrying new trend.

"Most of us would not think it cute if I stuck a big flashing strobe-light on a polar bear, or emblazoned my company slogan across the perilous upper reaches of Everest," wrote Caleb Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University.

"Jamming a brilliantly glinting sphere into the heavens feels similarly abusive. It's definitely a reminder of our fragile place in the universe, because it's infesting the very thing that we urgently need to cherish."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (27)

Tags: Humanity Star

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #18 Posted by rodentraiser on 1 February, 2018, 22:50
Well, DUH, the moon is the most observed item in the night sky. How could you NOT see it when looking up at night. Many amateurs start with binoculars and then go on to get a telescope. Yes, there are people who study the moon, draw it, photograph it, and time lunar occultations. And yes, as I said, when we did star parties for the public or for a school, we went out on a night when the moon was half to a quarter full, because we knew that people like to see the moon up close. But if the moon is so popular for observing, then why, to a person, do the people in astronomy clubs gather on a moonl... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by toast on 2 February, 2018, 0:00
If they go for deep-sky or planets or comets, then they mostly go out on moonless nights. If they want to observe or want to do videography of the Moon, then they go out when the Moon is visible. Its just that simple.
Comment icon #20 Posted by rodentraiser on 4 February, 2018, 9:15
Here in the US it's moonless night dark sky parties that are the most popular.
Comment icon #21 Posted by ChaosRose on 4 February, 2018, 16:12
A disco ball...in space.  Ugh...Earth is clearly the Cousin Eddie of the Galaxy. 
Comment icon #22 Posted by Hammerclaw on 4 February, 2018, 17:15
There are hundreds of satellites visible to the naked eye in a night sky unpolluted by light--what's one more?   
Comment icon #23 Posted by ChrLzs on 5 February, 2018, 1:49
To repeat, for those not seeming to keep up... 1. It's NOT 'large'. It's barely 3 feet in diameter, and the individual panels, only one of which is likely to be reflecting at any moment, are triangles of about 10" per side.  That's a pitifully small reflective area - compare that to the highly polished solar panels of the Iridium satellites which are about 1m x 2m.  Yet most people have never seen an Iridium flare, let alone know about it. 2. The guesstimations from the company that the satellite could be magnitude 1 (which is an 'averagely' bright star) are ridiculous.  It seems that at most ... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by Hammerclaw on 5 February, 2018, 5:16
It's lost in the crowd of other visible satellites. I think it's more of a case of P.E. and some obnoxious types wanting to rain on the Kiwi's parade.
Comment icon #25 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 19 February, 2018, 12:11
Rocket Lab's second silver ball will remain on Earth  
Comment icon #26 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 19 February, 2018, 17:37
To back up your claim, here is what the world renowned Sky and Telescope magazine had to say: And also: The full article can be found here: Sky and Telescope. Here is what another top astronomy journal, Astronomy Magazine had to say: Full article here: Astronomy Magazine. So, when we have articles written by astronomers that genuinely know what they are talking about there is none of the rage that we have seen in this topic.   I have seen images of it now. I suspect that it's initial orbital path did not take it over densely populated areas at dawn or dusk, meaning that few would have seen it.... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by BorizBadinov on 19 February, 2018, 19:29
While this is fairly innocuous apparently I am not a fan of putting items into orbit for esthetic reasons. What worries me is the precedent this potentially sets when someone decides to do a Hancock on the moon someday. I know that's kind of an extreme example compared to a temporary flashy in the sky, but we tend to protect a thing after most of it has been messed up. Lets just start early on this.


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