Astronomers propose caps on night light and satellites to improve sky visibility

Artificial night light and mega-constellations of satellites, two factors that make it difficult to stargazinghas led a group of astronomers to request that both be regulated, proposing a strategy of limits and even considering the possibility of prohibiting large groups of vehicles placed in Earth orbit.

An article published in Nature Astronomy and signed by five authors, including Fabio Falchifrom the University of Santiago de Compostela, and Salvador Barafrom the Agrupación Astronómica Coruñesa Ío, makes “an appeal to scientists to stop” this deterioration caused by individual impediments.

The article concludes that “now is the time to consider the ban of the mega-constellations and to promote a significant reduction of artificial night lighting and the consequent light pollution”.

In this sense, the authors consider that “a limit strategy should be applied, a method used successfully for decades to control most pollutants, both for the production of artificial light and for satellites in orbit.”

When approaching these stops, they should be taken measures to re-enter them and if they already exceed “reasonable limits, as appears to be both light pollution and satellite pollution, remedial action should be taken.”

Artificial light at night, they warn, is “a anthropogenic pollutant» with negative consequences on human and animal behavior and physiology, which is sometimes an «inevitable by-product of a necessary thing».

Thus, the signatories consider that “it should surely be mandatory for governments to take immediate measures to limit and reduce the total amount of artificial night light in a similar way to what they did to control other air pollutants.”

Dialogue with satellite companies

As for the effects of earth orbiting satellites low in the night sky and science, consider that “it is equally naive” to expect the space economy to limit itself, “if it is not forced to do so”, to counter the new environmental and security issues raised by the new satellite mega-constellations private.

The exploitation of these mega-constellations, they recall, “includes super-fast speculative financial transactions and battlefield management. This unprecedented escalation should be stopped at the outset and regulated.”

However, they point out that “by establishing a dialogue with companiesinstead of dialogue with the States (or require them) or with international regulatory entities, we are allowing the interested party to self-regulate, substituting the role of a regulatory State, which must guarantee the well-being of societies ».

Thus, they reflect that «in the balance of immediate or long-term benefits and damages, for society, and despite the popularity of satellite mega-constellations, we should not reject the possibility of banning them. Rather, we believe the impacts and risks are too high to rule out this possibility.”

There are “some” key actions that astronomers around the world can take, such as remembering that these problems “are of sociopolitical naturenot technological, and act accordingly.

In addition, they emphasize that “resolute measures should be taken in all countries, with greater urgency in those that have a greater share of responsibility in the current process of deterioration of the global night sky.”

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