Just 120 of the planned 42,000 small satellites have been sent into orbit but astronomers are already complaining Mr Musk has ruined their view of the stars. Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite broadband project that will eventually see tens of thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth to deliver internet to every corner of the globe. One astronomer, Clarae Martínez-Vázquez from the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), part of a four-meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Coquimbo, Chile, shared a picture which showed a steady stream of light as the satellites passed above her telescope.
Ms Martínez-Vázquez said on Twitter: “Wow!! I am in shock!! The huge amount of Starlink satellites crossed our skies tonight.
“Our DECam exposure was heavily affected by 19 of them! The train of Starlink satellites lasted for over 5 minutes!! Rather depressing… This is not cool!”
Scientists use radio astronomy for a range of issues, once taking the first ever image of a black hole.
However, radio astronomy is also used to search for signs of life elsewhere in the universe.
Telescopes such as the five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in China and the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), to name just two, search for radio signals from deep space.
These radio signals can be created by black holes forming, stars colliding and even an extraterrestrial race trying to communicate throughout the cosmos.
Despite conceding Mr Musk’s Starlink project came with “good intentions”, astronomers are concerned about how it will effect their understanding of the universe and what it contains.
Earlier this year, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) said in a statement: “The scientific concerns are twofold. Firstly, the surfaces of these satellites are often made of highly reflective metal, and reflections from the Sun in the hours after sunset and before sunrise make them appear as slow-moving dots in the night sky.
“Although most of these reflections may be so faint that they are hard to pick out with the naked eye, they can be detrimental to the sensitive capabilities of large ground-based astronomical telescopes, including the extreme wide-angle survey telescopes currently under construction.
“Secondly, despite notable efforts to avoid interfering with radio astronomy frequencies, aggregate radio signals emitted from the satellite constellations can still threaten astronomical observations at radio wavelengths.
“Recent advances in radio astronomy, such as producing the first image of a black hole or understanding more about the formation of planetary systems, were only possible through concerted efforts in safeguarding the radio sky from interference.”
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However, Elon Musk has said SpaceX is aware of the situation and the anger being portrayed by astronomers, but his company is looking at ways to reduce the light pollution.
Mr Musk wrote on Twitter earlier this year: “Sent a note to Starlink team last week specifically regarding albedo reduction.
“We’ll get a better sense of the value of this when satellites have raised orbits and arrays are tracking to sun.”
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