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Are Elon Musk’s ‘megaconstellations’ a blight on the night sky?

Miniature satellites open up a world of technological possibility. But experts say they degrade the astronomical landscapeThe natural serenity of the

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Miniature satellites open up a world of technological possibility. But experts say they degrade the astronomical landscape

The natural serenity of the night sky is a touchstone for all of us. Everyone alive today looks at the same stars no matter where they are located on the planet. But the connection is more profound because, next to our brief lives, the stars are immortal. Shakespeare saw the same stars in the same patterns that we do. So did Galileo, Columbus, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra and the first human ancestor to look up in curiosity. The night sky is nothing short of our common human heritage.

Last year, however, something happened that might change that view for ever. On 23 May 2019, Elon Musk’s company SpaceX launched 60 small satellites from a single rocket. The satellites were the first in what is planned to be a “megaconstellation” of thousands of satellites that will bring internet coverage to the entire planet.

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