A Giant Satellite Is the 20th Brightest Star in The Night Sky

  • AST SpaceMobile launched BlueWalker, a 693-square foot communications satellite into orbit.
  • Astronomers claim it is as bright as some of its counterparts. brightest starsThey warn that it could affect their work.
  • The company plans to launch hundreds of other satellites to provide a service similar to its own. space-based broadband network.

AST SpaceMobile furnished an apartment-sized apartment in November. satelliteComplete with solar panels, and a huge antenna for low Earth orbit.

According to the International Astronomical Union, it is now the brightest object in the sky, surpassing stars. a statement last week.


BlueWalker 3, a satellite measuring 693 square feet, was designed to provide cell phone service orbitally to Earth. AST SpaceMobile bills itAs the “largest ever commercial communications array deployed in low-Earth orbit.”

It is one of over 100 satellites that the company plans on launching in the next two-years in order to create a constellation-like fleet, all moving together.

IAU shared images that show how the satellite’s bright trails cross the sky.

Trail of BlueWalker 3 crossing the night sky, taken from a backyard in Tucson, Arizona, on 20 November 2022.

Trail of BlueWalker 3 crossing night sky, taken from a backyard near Tucson, Arizona, November 20, 2022.

A. Block/IAU CP

At its maximum brightness, the satellite was almost as bright as Antares and Spica — the 15th and 16th brightest stars in the night sky, respectively — according to observations from IAU astronomers.

Astronomers are also concerned by the possibility of radio interference from these “cellphone towers in space”, which the IAU warned could disrupt radioastronomy research.

“We are eagerly seeking the newest technologies to mitigate any impacts to astronomy,” AST SpaceMobile shared in a statement with Insider. “We are actively collaborating with industry experts to develop the latest innovations, such as next-generation anti-reflective substances.”

The statement stated that “We are also involved with NASA and certain working group within the astronomy comunity to participate in advanced industrial solutions, including possible operational interventions.”

Satellite debris can clog up our view of space and pose a danger to spacecraft.

space debris satellites earth orbit

According to a new report by the US Government Accountability Office (USA), over 5,500 satellites have already been found in low Earth orbit.


According to a US report, more than 5,500 satellites have already been found in low-Earth orbit. Government Accountability Office.According to some estimates, 58,000 satellites could be launched by 2030. This is mainly due to swarms and constellations of satellites.

This is the leader SpaceXAlready with more than 3000 satellites, ISS will likely have over 12,000 in the next decade to provide low cost internet to remote locations.

Illustration of SpaceX's Starlink network of satellites.

Illustration of SpaceX’s Starlink network satellites.

Getty Images

The increasing number of satellites launched into orbitThis adds to the risk of close encounters with other orbital debris such as defunct satellites and pieces of rocket parts. October saw the following: the International Space Station had swerveTo avoid collision with a piece Russian satellite debris.

Astronomers are also concerned at the impact of satellite constellations on “the loss to”humanity’s ability to experience the natural night skyAccording to the IAU statement, “

Already, night skies that are clear and unpolluted are being destroyed by light pollution from satellites and other human sources. A September 2021A study has shown that global light pollution by satellites increased 49% between 1992-2017.

When we look up at night sky, many of the bright lights might not be stars — but satellites.

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