Artificial stars could redesign the night sky

Written on the stars: Do we face a future in which advertising slogans light up the night sky?

The night sky is already filled with light from street lights, planes and satellites, making it difficult to star gaze. Some warn that if businesses are allowed near the sky, we may lose sight of the stars completely.

What’s happening

In January 2018, a New Zealand company called Rocket Lab sent a large silver disco ball into orbit. It was called the “Humanity Star”, and it was there to “encourage people to consider their place in the universe”

Astronomers were outraged that the light was blocking out real stars.

Find out more

When you look up at the night sky, what do you see?

With all the light pollution, aeroplanes and the thousands of satellites sent into orbit by humans, the stars are less bright than they once were.

In an article for The Atlantic, science reporter Marina Koren suggests that we could restore the wonder of the night sky by building our own stars.

In January, Japan launched a rocket that will one day create on-demand “meteor showers” for people watching on Earth. The Chinese city Chengdu wants to use an artificial moon to replace streetlights. One Russian start-up has suggested using satellites to put advertisements up in the night sky.

Should we redesign the night sky?

Some say…

Yes. We have shaped the Earth into cities and towns, so why not the sky? It is incredible that humans can build lights in space that are as impressive and beautiful as the stars themselves. We should make the most of our technology.

Others think…

What a terrible idea! “The natural night sky is our universal heritage,” says the Dark-Sky Association. Even the light from the closest stars takes four years to reach Earth. Most take hundreds. The night sky is older than any of us. We must look after it.

You Decide

  1. Do you like to look at the night sky?

Activities

  1. Design an object to be sent into the night sky. It can be as big or small as you like. Draw your object, label it and name it.

Some People Say...

“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US president (1901-1909)

What do you think?

Word Watch

Astronomers
Scientists who study stars, planets, moons, comets and galaxies.
Light pollution
Street lights in cities and towns brighten the night sky, therefore, blocking out the stars.
Satellites
Objects deliberately put into space that we communicate with, for example, to make maps of the Earth and other planets.
Orbit
When something in space circles around a planet, moon or star.
Artificial
Fake.
Start-up
A new business.
Heritage
Something that we inherit from the past.

Subjects

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