08:01 GMT15 July 2020
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    Star-gazers in Europe recently marveled at a spectacular sight in the night skies, comparing the phenomenon to anything ranging from UFOs to Santa's Christmas sleigh.

    A striking vision of Elon Musk's Starlink satellites streaking over Europe’s skies ignited the internet recently, with users posting videos and photos of the chain of lights, and expressing their amazement, as not everyone was quick to figure out what they were.

    ​Starlink is the informal name for Musk's Space X's ambitious project which seeks to create a constellation of thousands of low-orbit small satellites to beam super-fast internet into homes.

    On Twitter, the sight had users in Western Europe likening the apparition to Santa’s sleigh and Christmas lights.

    Not all were as enthusiastic, as some echoed the criticism expressed by many astronomy experts.

    ​‘Crime Against Humanity’

    Some astronomers have been criticising the billionaire for the project, insisting the satellites are getting in the way of scientific observations and rendering it increasingly difficult to observe the night sky.

    According to them, as the network reflects light from the sun, it can corrupt between 30 to 40 percent of astronomical images.

    Slammed as a “crime against humanity” by one zealous sky-watcher, the satellites are suggested as interfering with ground-based radio telescopes which experts use to observe distant phenomena.

    According to a recent study from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), satellite mega-constellations such as Starlink will “severely” affect between 30 and 50 percent of observations taken by the Rubin Observatory, currently being built in Chile.

    Fending off the criticism, Elon Musk tweeted in May 2019 that the amount of light that satellites have been sending down toward Earth would be studied and measures to mitigate the effects would be taken.

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array (VLA) telescope in New Mexico
    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array (VLA) telescope in New Mexico

    In an effort to deal with the fallout, SpaceX has been reportedly working with the American Astronomical Society for months to come up with a solution to the problems the satellite constellation has created.

    The Starlink project was launched by SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.

    What renders the project particularly important is that it aspires to beam internet to areas where connections are harder to get, or more expensive.

    With the initial 60 satellites launched on 24 May 2019, and a fifth batch placed in orbit in February, the company now has 300 of the satellites in place.

    Future plans presuppose thousands more to be launched over the next few years, with the ambitious target of 1,500 satellites in low-orbit by the end of 2020.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    Satellites, satellites, Satellite, Starlink, Elon Musk, Elon Musk
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