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Astronomers: Shut down satellite companies so we don’t have to adapt!

The Hubble Space Telescope
Space-based astronomy, a concept apparently alien to astronomers

In an article published today in Nature, the astronomy community continued its crybaby complaining of the last three years about the interference posed to their ground-based telescopes by the tens of thousands of small satellites scheduled for launch in the next few years.

These quotes typify the apparent attitude of astronomers:

“This is an unsustainable trajectory,” says Meredith Rawls, an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle. “At the moment, our science is fine. But at what point will we miss a discovery?”

…“It’s really quite horrifying,” says Samantha Lawler, an astronomer at the University of Regina in Canada.

…The growing threat of satellite constellations adds to other degradations of the night sky such as light pollution, says Karlie Noon, a PhD candidate in astronomy and an Indigeneous research associate at Australian National University in Canberra. “In the same way that our lands were colonized, our skies are now being colonized,” she says. “And this isn’t just Indigenous people.” She points out that companies have launched satellites without necessarily consulting the scientific community. [emphasis mine]

Oh the horror. Scientists weren’t consulted! The nerve of these companies!

In response, astronomers have decided their only solution is to enlist the UN to shut down these satellite companies.

There are no laws regulating how bright satellites should appear in the night sky, although the IAU and other astronomical organizations have been pushing the United Nations to recognize the problem. Representatives from many nations will discuss protecting the skies at a meeting of the UN’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space that begins in Vienna on 1 June.

At no point do any of the astronomers mentioned in the Nature article consider the much more sensible solution — with enormous long term advantages to astronomy — of abandoning ground-based observations entirely and shifting all future telescope construction to in-space facilities. This shift will of course not be easy, and will take time and a lot of money, but it will also guarantee astronomers a much clearer view of the heavens, and in the end produce far better data than ever possible from even the best and most advanced ground-based telescope.

And the sooner astronomers do it, the less time their research will be stymied by satellite interference.

Yet, according to Nature no one in the astronomy community is interested in this solution. Instead, all they want are more ground-based telescopes and the help of government to block the achievements of everyone else.

Whether the astronomers can succeed in this totalitarian and narrow-minded approach remains unknown. Right now astronomers might be able to fool the public into going along, especially because the satellite constellations have either not reached full operations or have not yet launched. The June UN meeting will be a critical event where actual regulations and restrictions could be imposed.

Once these satellite constellations are operating however blocking them it will be much more difficult, because by then their own vested interests, the general public using the satellites, will oppose any restrictions.

Thus, we see one-sided articles like today in Nature. The lobbying campaign is ramping up. Be prepared for more such articles in the mainstream press, fueled further by the increasing mindless hate the left has suddenly discovered for Elon Musk and any of his projects.

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  • Bob Wilson

    “fueled further by the increasing mindless hate the left has suddenly discovered for Elon Musk and any of his projects.” good observation. It shows the left’s complete dominance of our cultural institutions and the way that they use them in coordination for their ends. Any conservative who votes for a Democrat is a fool. there’s no such thing as a moderate Democrat.

  • V-Man

    Wondering if there’s any Chinese money behind those efforts. They’re not fans of Starlink.

  • Jay

    I wonder if some of astronomers will sub-contract the protest work out to the TMT protestors in Hawaii?

  • Col Beausabre

    It’s “Rice Bowls”. The people who run astronomy are in nice, secure, well paid positions, doing what the profession has always done and are very comfortable in that. Changing the way things are done is a threat – you’re going to break their rice bowls! Basically, you’re going to turn every ground based telescope into a museum piece. Going from being a senior staff member at one of these institutions and having to start over and compete with all those other people – they might know more about spacecraft ! – totally unacceptable.

  • Jerry Greenwood

    Is this actually happening? I understand the visibility of satellites just before sunrise and just after sunset (if you’re really patient and look real hard) might be a tiny annoyance but I can’t believe it could possibly actually interfere with observations.

  • Jerry Greenwood: Yes, the satellites will definitely begin to impact astronomy in the coming years. As I say, who cares if astronomers suffer. The astronomers have a great alternative that will be even better than being on Earth because it will get them above the atmosphere, and they seem uninterested in pursuing it.

  • Patrick Underwood

    I hope nobody posts anything that could be interpreted as, er, misogynistic.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I looked. The author also believes everyone should give up cars and ride bicycles. Eh.

    I understand their concern, but I think the concern is overrated. And I agree that off world platforms are the future. Especially considering that the atmosphere blocks everything except visible spectrum, a bit of IR, and radio.

    The ability to observe in other spectrums requires off world platforms.

    Additionally, I really doubt the US Gov is going to stifle an industry that could possibly give it a strategic advantage.

  • Gary


    You read my mind!

  • Boris Jezersek


    You can say that this is progress in action, but have you asked following questions:

    1. Is the night star natural given, free-off charge, for each human ? or
    2. Should I need to pay to companies to allow me to sneak to outer space in the future ?

    and finally

    3. What is real benefit for each human to have his internet/phone connection only via satellite ? Price? Speed? Lower gear price?
    4. Will amateur astronomers survive?

    Confused I am.

  • Gealon

    Once Starship is flying regularly, we can just ship all of these astronomers to a colony on the dark side of the moon where they can build all of the ground based telescopes they want.

    Just a bit of fun.

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