A Space X Starlink satellite is being blamed for ruining photos of the NEOWISE comet.
Space X, Amazon and a number of other companies are racing to deploy networks of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to provide high-speed internet access. Unfortunately, however, they may have a significant downside.
Astronomers have warned that tens of thousands of objects orbiting the planet could have a disastrous impact on efforts to observe the universe. Many of the satellites are highly reflective, possibly creating light interference. Even ones designed not to be reflective, can still physically interfere with line-of-sight if their orbit takes them between an observer and the object being observed. It appears those concerns are not without merit.
According to The International Business Times, astrophotographer Daniel Lopez was recording pictures of NEOWISE when Starlink comments passed in from of the comet. The end result was photos with light streaks from the satellites, effectively blocking a good shot of NEOWISE.
As more and more companies gain permission to launch satellites, this issue will need to be addressed. Otherwise, astronomers may find their profession exponentially more difficult.