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SpaceX put 60 Starlink satellites in space May 23, the first little chunk of an eventual 12,000-satellite-strong "megaconstellation" that the private company plans to place in orbit. Not long after the launch, observers and astronomers noticed something: This train of five dozen objects looked really bright overhead — unusually bright for artificial satellites. And this light show has many astronomers worried.

"The Starlink satellites just passed directly overhead," Boulder, Colorado-based astronomer Alex Parker tweeted Saturday (May 25). "They were glinting, some as bright as Polaris. Quite an eerie looking thing. And yes, the stars are out."

 

Parker, an expert in orbital mechanics, caused a stir Saturday by posting the results of some modeling he'd done of the eventual Starlink constellation. Assuming the 12,000 satellites, intended to provide worldwide internet connectivity, were distributed randomly across a wide range of possible orbits, he found, hundreds of them might be visible in the night sky at any given moment as fast-moving, bright dots. [15 Amazing Images of Stars]

 

There are two problems with this scenario, Parker told Live Science in a Tuesday (May 28) interview.

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Category: Science