Since 2019, the night sky — as seen by both human eyes and the telescopes we use to enhance our views of the Universe — has begun to fundamentally change as never before. Previously, only three major obstacles interfered with our views of the Universe:
- light pollution, brought about by the advance of electrical lighting and made worse by the recent advent of inexpensive, low-power, high-brightness LEDs,
- the atmosphere, including clouds, weather, and air conditions, all of which can interfere with our view of the planets, stars, and deep-sky objects beyond,
- and satellites, the human-created objects that only began launching with the advent of the space age, most of which were up there for scientific or telecommunications purposes.
However, just two years ago, an enormous number of bright, low-flying satellites began to go up, as first SpaceX and then others began to launch the first megaconstellations of satellites. Occupying low-Earth orbit, these megaconstellation members now make up nearly half of all active satellites, and are expected to rise into the tens or even the hundreds of thousands in number by the end of the decade. However, in mid-July, astronomers and industry representatives met for SATCON2: an attempt to bring concerned professionals together to identify and find solutions for the problems that come along with this new type of infrastructure.
Without significant, rapid, large-scale action, the night sky will likely be forever changed. Here’s what we can do about it.