On Night Sky Preservation

“Echo I,” a thin metalized 100 foot diameter balloon, was the first experimental communications satellite  launched on August 12, 1960. It acted as a passive reflector of  microwave signals bounced off from one point on Earth to another. A few years after its launch on March 14, 1963, I would inadvertently “capture” its bright presence in the form of a “trail” on a 25 minute (guided) exposure of the constellation Scorpius including part of the Milky Way. The satellite’s slightly deflated state is indicated by the varied brightness as it passed overhead. It also was one of the first aspects of the eventual encroachment of thousands of man made satellites in our night sky.

Today, the chances of having long exposure images of small areas of sky are potentially, and in fact… BEING “spoiled” by the explosive presence of “trails” from these satellites, such as Elon Musk’s “Space X’s “Starlink mission.” This poses a real threat to the preservation of this most natural resource. Efforts to mitigate the degree of their influence on observational astronomy have yet to prove effective.

Thanks for viewing, and comments are always welcome. M 🙂