Coronavirus: Absent planes provide perfect picture for astronomers

COVID-19 has now infected more than 156,000 people worldwide, resulting in more than 5,800 deaths. The disease has forced countries into lockdown, with travel to and from many countries now limited.

No more so than Italy, which has the second highest amount of coronavirus cases, behind China, with the country on lockdown.

However, the outbreak of the disease has led to new opportunities for astronomers who state that as planes have become less frequent in the skies over Italy, there is a clearer view of the sky.

Astronomy photographer Paolo Bardelli, who lives just 9.3 miles (15 kilometres) away from Milan’s airport claims his long-exposure photography is usually littered with planes passing overhead.

However, with a lack of planes due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there are just a few planes in his images.

Mr Bardelli told Space Weather: “We’re only about 15 km from the Milan Malpensa International Airport.

“Normally, my images are criss-crossed by many airplanes. When I took this photo on March 11, however, there were only two.

“Unfortunately, the absence of planes in the sky is the result of the COVID-19 virus, which has forced us into isolation.

“We are all staying at home waiting for an improvement in the situation. Luckily we have the sky!”

In Italy, all shops have been ordered to shut apart from supermarkets, food stores and chemists.

Schools have also been shut for 10 days to battle the virus.

Researchers are learning more about the virus which unleashed itself upon humanity at the end of 2019 by the day, and the latest discovery has revealed the incubation period.

The incubation period of a virus is the point from where one first catches it to the point where one starts to show symptoms.

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Experts at Johns Hopkins University have found that COVID-19 has an incubation period of 5.1 days.

By this analysis, the 14 day quarantine period is spot on, according to the researchers.

The study states that for every 10,000 individuals quarantined for 14 days, only about 101 would develop symptoms after being released from quarantine.

Justin Lessler, an associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology, said: “Based on our analysis of publicly available data, the current recommendation of 14 days for active monitoring or quarantine is reasonable, although with that period some cases would be missed over the long-term.”

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