The Future of the Night Sky: Light Pollution from Satellites

The increase in proliferated low Earth orbit constellations has fueled concern over light pollution. How might such interference affect astronomy and the astronomical infrastructure?

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Illustration of streaks of light from satellites across the night sky

Like many aspects of large pLEO constellations, the overall impact of pLEO light pollution on astronomical observational equipment and research is still largely under-studied and merits objective analysis. Included in these “known unknowns” is the potential public impact of pLEO reflection of sunlight in addition to the larger light pollution problem from the ground, which has been shown to have adverse effects on astronomical research activities and stargazing. In the years to come, information-sharing and cooperation could help facilitate the creation of industry best practices and standards to ensure the long-term sustainability of both ground-based astronomy and LEO constellations.

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