Planned launch of communications satellites to impact our view of the night sky: U of R researcher

The planned launch of thousands of communications satellites in the coming years is expected to have a dramatic impact on the viewing of the night sky, according to a University of Regina researcher.

Samantha Lawler is an assistant professor of Astronomy at the University of Regina’s Campion College, and the lead researcher on a project predicting which regions of the world will be impacted most by satellites.

“We looked at the distribution of the orbits that satellite companies want to use and how bright they will be,” Lawler said.

The research determined the satellites are expected to generate the most light pollution at 50 degrees latitude North and South. This would impact cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and London, England.

“Right here where I live near Regina is one of the worst places in the world. There will be hundreds of satellites that will be visible to the naked eye all night long,” she said.

The team of researchers has also developed an app, so people had see what the night sky could look like where they live.

“Those nights will be full of hundreds of satellites, and if they’re bright enough to see with your eye, then they’re bright enough to create serious problems for research astronomy,” Lawler said.

The researchers are calling for regulation on the number of satellites launched into space, and their light-reflecting properties.