RASC Vancouver Monthly meeting (hybrid): September edition

Join us in-person at SFU for our Monthly Meeting with an on-line backup option available.

Topic: A Changing Night Sky – When the satellites come flying in.

Speaker: Patrick Seitzer, Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan Astronomy Department

Bio: Patrick Seitzer is a Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan Astronomy Department in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He conducts research in Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and optical studies of orbital debris. Using U-M’s 0.6-meter Curtis-Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, he and his collaborators conduct optical surveys to determine the total amount of debris at geosynchronous orbit (GEO) then follow up with spectroscopy with the 6.5-m Magellan telescopes to characterize particular objects. Magellan is also used to do deep pencil-beam surveys for faint orbital debris in the GEO regime. Recently he has concentrated on the challenge of large numbers of new bright satellites and how they will change the appearance of the night sky, and affect astronomical observations. He served on the NASA delegation to the Inter-Agency Debris Coordinating Committee (IADC), and currently is on the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Interference, and Space Debris.

Abstract: Artificial satellites in Earth orbit have been leaving streaks in astronomical images since 1957 and the launch of Sputnik 1. The problem took on a much larger challenge in May, 2019, when SpaceX launched the first Starlinks into low Earth orbit (LEO). These satellites were bright enough that they could be seen in twilight, and from the center of light polluted cities. Astronomers immediately wondered: with the proposed launch of several hundred thousand satellites into LEO in the next decade, was the night sky lost? I’ll review what determines when and how bright a satellite will appear, and the steps SpaceX has taken to make the Star links fainter. In addition, I’ll outline what amateur astronomers can do to measure the brightness of satellites, and when and where to observe so that your observations are least affected by satellites.

SFU’s COVID in-person protocols apply, that being maintaining distance from others and wearing of masks are encouraged.

If you can’t join us in person, join via the zoom link available to our Meetup members when you RSVP. RASC Vancouver Members will be sent the online link in our usual monthly meeting email invitation.

All of our monthly meetings are free and open to the public.

Location: Hybrid In person at Simon Fraser University and via Zoom. Details available in meet up.

Date and Time: September 08, 2022, 7:30PM