Top Stories
  1. Roger Kahn dead: Writer of 'Boys of Summer' was considered to be best baseball writer in the country - Los Angeles Times
  2. Gaithersburg Lab Looks to Release First Coronavirus Vaccine - Montgomery Community Media
  3. Stunning 'Wheel of Fortune' answer - CityNews Toronto
  4. Four-Cylinder Toyota Supra For The U.S. Likely To Be Announced Next Week - Motor1
  5. Triple humpback whale breach gives Hawaii man unexpected birthday present | Watch News Videos Online -
  6. Virginia Tech the first to reach out to graduate transfer Reed - 247Sports
  7. What The Sprint-T-Mobile Merger Means for You - The New York Times
  8. How Not to Get Sick While Traveling - The New York Times
  9. Norovirus outbreak in Louisiana casino leaves 200 ill - Washington Examiner
  10. Coronavirus: Number of European cases kept low because of China's 'sacrifice', minister says - Sky News
  11. Geothermal energy: Drilling a 3,000-meter-deep well -
  12. Comet chameleon? Here’s why this nearby comet keeps changing colors - Salon
  13. ‘Flammable ice’ discovery could offer new clue to potential alien life, study claims - Fox News
  14. The U.S. Government Is Quarantining More Than 800 Americans. Here's Why That Very Rarely Happens - Yahoo News
  15. Sears in Haywood Mall closing in April, report says - WYFF4 Greenville
  16. Quarantine begins for almost 100 people at Lackland AFB amidst coronavirus outbreak - WOAI
  17. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip hands-on clearly shows the tall foldable phone - Engadget
  18. 10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: $37 noise cancelling headphones, $6 smart plugs, GoPro HERO8, Roomba i7+, more - BGR
  19. Why Princess Diana Cried Her Eyes Out on Her Honeymoon With Prince Charles - Showbiz Cheat Sheet
  20. From Big Bang to cosmic bounce: an astronomical journey through space and time -
  21. Coronavirus Live Updates: An American Dies of the Virus in Wuhan, China - The New York Times
  22. The Pangolin Is Now a Potential Suspect in Spreading The Wuhan Coronavirus to Humans - ScienceAlert
  23. 5 things gamers want from the PlayStation 5 - CNN
  24. Yes, A New Call Of Duty Game Is Coming Out This Year - GameSpot
  25. VIDEOS: Flooded areas in East Tennessee – February 2020 - WATE 6 On Your Side
  26. Jessica Simpson clarifies whether Nick, Vanessa Lachey sent her a gift - Fox News

Astronomers worry satellites from Elon Musk's SpaceX and Amazon will ruin view of the night sky - CNBC

Tech giants like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Amazon have plans to launch constellations of thousands of satellites aimed at providing global internet access. But astronomers are worried that adding the masses of satellites to Earth's orbit could screw up our view of the night sky, as well as disrupt scientific research.

The Astronomical Union International — the world's largest organization of professional astronomers with over 13,000 membersissued a statement last week to complain about SpaceX's launch of its first batch of satellites at the end of May. While that launch only sent about 60 satellites into orbit, SpaceX eventually plans a network of satellites, called Starlink, that would consist of nearly 12,000 satellites flying in low Earth orbit (within 1,200 miles of the planet's surface). Roughly half of those satellites are reportedly expected to launch within the next six years.

And SpaceX isn't the only company launching satellite networks, as Amazon has a similar plan in the works, called Project Kuiper, that would put over 3,200 satellites in low Earth orbit over several years in order to provide broadband internet access around the world.

In its statement, the IAU argues that an uncrowded night sky is "not only essential to advancing our understanding of the Universe of which we are a part, but also as a resource for all humanity and for the protection of nocturnal wildlife," the statement reads. "We do not yet understand the impact of thousands of these visible satellites scattered across the night sky and despite their good intentions, these satellite constellations may threaten both."

The IAU's statement came after some astronomers — both amateur and professional — took to social media following last month's SpaceX Starlink launch to voice their own concerns. Dutch scientist Marco Langbroek tweeted a video showing the Startlink satellites streaking across the night sky, though reports noted that the satellites would eventually drift apart (and into higher orbit) rather than being clustered together as they appear in the video.

Soon after, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Jonathan McDowell, tweeted that the Starlink satellites were "brighter than we had expected," while Southwest Research Institute planetary astronomer Alex Parker wrote in a tweet Langbroek's video "gives me pause" because the satellites' brightness.

"If SpaceX launches all 12,000, they will outnumber stars visible to the naked eye," Parker wrote on Twitter.

Amazon did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment.

In a statement provided to CNBC Make It, a SpaceX spokesperson said the company continues to monitor its orbiting satellites while noting that "the observability of the Starlink satellites is dramatically reduced as they raise orbit to greater distance and orient themselves with the phased array antennas toward Earth and their solar arrays behind the body of the satellite."

However, in a series of late-May tweets, Musk claimed that the current thousands of satellites in orbit pose little to no problems for astronomers, and that SpaceX is working to ensure its satellites will not hurt the view of the night sky. "We'll make sure Starlink has no material effect on discoveries in astronomy," Musk wrote. "We care a great deal about science."

In fact, Musk also said that he had asked SpaceX to reduce the brightness of future Starlink satellites, and SpaceX has worked with the U.S. National Science Foundation, which oversees the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, to help ensure that the Starlink satellites do not run afoul of "international radio astronomy protection standards," the NSF said in a statement this week.

"NSF is aware of concerns from the research community and looks forward to careful analysis of potential impacts on optical and infrared astronomy," a spokesperson for NSF said in a statement provided to CNBC Make It. "NSF's mission is to fund basic research, as well as the instruments and facilities that enable such research. We value input from stakeholders about possible impacts on any area of the research ecosystem and will work with our federal, private and academic partners to ensure research capabilities are safeguarded."

SpaceX and Amazon will eventually commercialize their satellite internet networks, with SpaceX CEO Musk predicting his company's network could reap upwards of $30 billion per year in revenue.

More than 2,000 satellites are currently estimated to be orbiting Earth, though roughly 1,300 of those are in low Earth orbit, according to data from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a statement from a SpaceX spokesperson.

Don't Miss: Elon Musk always thought SpaceX would 'fail' and he'd lose his PayPal millions

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launches carrying the Es'hail-2 communications satellite for the country of Qatar on November 15, 2018 at  the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Read More