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Starlink (satellite constellation) impact on CCD photometry

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Alessandro
Starlink (satellite constellation) impact on CCD photometry

In the future, probably after my retirement, I would like to contribute to citizen science with some CCD photometry work.
However I believe that my plans could change, I found this worrying news:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlink_(satellite_constellation)

So my question for the experts is: what impact will such a vast satellite constellation have on amateur CCD photometry?
and also in general on ground-based astronomy and even on associations like AAVSO?

Regards,

Alessandro

 

Eric Dose
Eric Dose's picture
I'm doubling down on photometry

Of course, if their satellite system even happens, the effect on photometry will not be welcome. But some estimates of effect should be possible. We know their projected count, altitude, and thus velocity, so we should be able to compute Poisson probabilities of a satellite's sweeping any given image. Rule of thumb, low-orbit satellites like the ISS sweep about a degree of sky a second at zenith. But first, does anyone know how big these satellites are (to estimate their magnitude at ground)?

Some thoughts:

  • Radio astronomy would be affected more than optical. After all, these satellites are planned to be powerful, high-frequency radio transmitters all pointed at the ground 24/7. Goodbye VLA.
  • Despite their assurances (a euphemism), they will not be able to much reduce the satellites' albedo, due to solar heating and all that.
  • Last night I took 328 photometric images, and only 5 had clearly visible tracks of satellites; zero images were affected photometrically, even with all the satellites up there already. And I just installed a new mount, so I guess that means I've cast my vote to continue photometry for several years.
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