Starlink ruining the night sky

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:32 pm

bolo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:20 pm
Yes, flat phased array. Maybe a little more than 30cm? Not sure. But in any case, not a phone.
Quite. The benefits to the global poor are probably being overstated - people who can't afford a phone, can't read, or who don't know any of the languages commonly used on the net aren't going to feel much benefit from faster download speeds.

Funding education and providing access to (and training in the use of) internet-enabled devices would be much more useful IMHO.
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by TimW » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:50 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:32 pm
bolo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:20 pm
Yes, flat phased array. Maybe a little more than 30cm? Not sure. But in any case, not a phone.
Quite. The benefits to the global poor are probably being overstated - people who can't afford a phone, can't read, or who don't know any of the languages commonly used on the net aren't going to feel much benefit from faster download speeds.

Funding education and providing access to (and training in the use of) internet-enabled devices would be much more useful IMHO.
Are end users supposed to buy said aerials or would they be part of a GSM network or something like that?

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:53 pm

How long was that exposure?

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:56 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:32 pm
bolo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:20 pm
Yes, flat phased array. Maybe a little more than 30cm? Not sure. But in any case, not a phone.
Quite. The benefits to the global poor are probably being overstated - people who can't afford a phone, can't read, or who don't know any of the languages commonly used on the net aren't going to feel much benefit from faster download speeds.

Funding education and providing access to (and training in the use of) internet-enabled devices would be much more useful IMHO.
I participated in a project to send "obsolete"* laptops to central Africa back in the '90s. Even the oldest ones were scarfed up quickly. If they had had Internet they could have used them for more education that was available locally. The same could be done with S5 Samsungs.


*Obsolete. You know, last year's models. :roll:

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:00 pm

TimW wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:50 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:32 pm
bolo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:20 pm
Yes, flat phased array. Maybe a little more than 30cm? Not sure. But in any case, not a phone.
Quite. The benefits to the global poor are probably being overstated - people who can't afford a phone, can't read, or who don't know any of the languages commonly used on the net aren't going to feel much benefit from faster download speeds.

Funding education and providing access to (and training in the use of) internet-enabled devices would be much more useful IMHO.
Are end users supposed to buy said aerials or would they be part of a GSM network or something like that?
According to TechRadar they cost $200, with no mention of freebies (though I dare say a few will be given out as a photo-op for Musk).

That is to say, they cost more than the phones that people already can't afford.

I can imagine, say, an NGO or similar getting one to use in their office in an area with no decent network coverage, but in general this isn't the solution for the global poor.
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by GeenDienst » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:01 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:53 pm
How long was that exposure?
If you mean the picture I posted...
Composite of three 15-second photos – taken a few minutes apart – capturing 14 of the recently launched SpaceX Starlink satellites.
Just tell 'em I'm broke and don't come round here no more.

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:03 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:56 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:32 pm
bolo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:20 pm
Yes, flat phased array. Maybe a little more than 30cm? Not sure. But in any case, not a phone.
Quite. The benefits to the global poor are probably being overstated - people who can't afford a phone, can't read, or who don't know any of the languages commonly used on the net aren't going to feel much benefit from faster download speeds.

Funding education and providing access to (and training in the use of) internet-enabled devices would be much more useful IMHO.
I participated in a project to send "obsolete"* laptops to central Africa back in the '90s. Even the oldest ones were scarfed up quickly. If they had had Internet they could have used them for more education that was available locally. The same could be done with S5 Samsungs.


*Obsolete. You know, last year's models. :roll:
A decade ago I worked in a phone shop in the UK. Customers could trade in their obsolete* models for a discount off a new one, and those that still worked were indeed generally shipped off to poor countries.

In sub-Saharan Africa there are a lot of countries where less than half of people have access to electricity. You can get a few days' use on a mobile phone after charging it for an hour or so on the village solar panel or generator, but computers require constant power that isn't always available even in urban areas, and laptops don't last that long either.

*indeed
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:30 pm

GeenDienst wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:01 pm
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:53 pm
How long was that exposure?
If you mean the picture I posted...
Composite of three 15-second photos – taken a few minutes apart – capturing 14 of the recently launched SpaceX Starlink satellites.
Whew, for a second I thought they'd actually leave trails like that.

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Gfamily » Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:21 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:30 pm


Whew, for a second I thought they'd actually leave trails like that.
It's perfectly fine not to give a f.ck, but it doesn't mean it's not a problem to others.

My dilemma is that it's an attempt to address a non trivial problem, but I'm not convinced that the externalities have been properly considered, let alone resolved.
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:34 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:21 pm
It's perfectly fine not to give a f.ck, but it doesn't mean it's not a problem to others.
So if somebody actually said it wasn't a problem to others you'd be miffed? Asking for a friend.

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by username » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:06 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:03 pm
Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:56 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:32 pm

Quite. The benefits to the global poor are probably being overstated - people who can't afford a phone, can't read, or who don't know any of the languages commonly used on the net aren't going to feel much benefit from faster download speeds.

Funding education and providing access to (and training in the use of) internet-enabled devices would be much more useful IMHO.
I participated in a project to send "obsolete"* laptops to central Africa back in the '90s. Even the oldest ones were scarfed up quickly. If they had had Internet they could have used them for more education that was available locally. The same could be done with S5 Samsungs.


*Obsolete. You know, last year's models. :roll:
A decade ago I worked in a phone shop in the UK. Customers could trade in their obsolete* models for a discount off a new one, and those that still worked were indeed generally shipped off to poor countries.

In sub-Saharan Africa there are a lot of countries where less than half of people have access to electricity. You can get a few days' use on a mobile phone after charging it for an hour or so on the village solar panel or generator, but computers require constant power that isn't always available even in urban areas, and laptops don't last that long either.

*indeed
I worked in the 90s and early 00s for an international NGO (which operated, basically, in *all the counties* as far as reach goes). One of the side projects I got involved in was starting internet cafes in South Africa to reach youth (mostly in townships) in part to help educate them. There's no doubt at all that internet access back then was quite difficult in many areas.

There's no doubt that using the internet for education was beneficial*. There's no doubt that getting PCs out there for use was also helpful (not just Africa, we sent stuff to Cuba,for instance,as well). What global satellite coverage does for those areas is to put within reach fast access to the internet for literally billions who currently don't have it. For sure there will be many people who can'rt afford their own node, but surely the knowledge that internet connections can be shared hasn't passed people here by? Surely it has not escaped everyone's attention that tech costs have a tendency to go down pretty rapidly over time?

People who can't afford a phone, or "can't read" get huge educational opportunities when access to the internet is increased- of course there are also other logistical issues but where the balance lies between a few wealthy white people looking through the atmosphere at distant stars to answer largely academic (or philosophical,even) questions when they probably have better options (i.e. space telescopes) and increasing the availability of of the internet to billions of people is a pretty easy one, for me at least, to see.

There are, it should be noted, just scads of organisations moving new and old tech into developing areas; not being able to get online renders much of the equipment hard to use ime.

*Again,there's probably a whole raft of studies on this which I don't have time to dig out right now, but given arguments are made that impoverished people should be given free internet access (broadband even), suggesting developing countries don't need it is pretty dissonant.
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Grumble » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:23 pm

username wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:06 pm
I worked in the 90s and early 00s for an international NGO (which operated, basically, in *all the counties* as far as reach goes).
f.cking hell, including Norfolk?
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:31 pm

I don't disagree with any of that.

However, I'm yet to be convinced that proprietary systems like Starlink are the answer. It involves buying an additional piece of expensive equipment (from a single company with a monopoly? And paying a subscription?), and doesn't solve some of the other barriers to getting online (electricity, money, language skills).

Who is the target market in the developing world? Presumably it's places that already have enough people for the $200 investment to be feasible and that have a functioning electricity grid, but which are not currently served by mobile internet. Are there that many of them, and is a network of thousands of satellites really the most effective way to help?

Have any development orgs commented yet?
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:44 pm

Discussions of the global poor are probably missing the point, FWIW. According to this article the service will be rolled out first in remote areas of the USA, where customers already pay up to $80/month for crappy internet, and might be expected to pay even more for a fast service.

The other intended customer is the US military, whose interventions are always welcomed with open arms as a positive boon for the locals.
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by username » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:51 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:44 pm
Discussions of the global poor are probably missing the point, FWIW. According to this article the service will be rolled out first in remote areas of the USA, where customers already pay up to $80/month for crappy internet, and might be expected to pay even more for a fast service.

The other intended customer is the US military, whose interventions are always welcomed with open arms as a positive boon for the locals.
Starlink is not the only game in town. It is not the only enterprise with satellites already testing from space. In any case, the fact that paying customers in one place are being used to prove the system right now does not say anything about plans for global coverage.
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by username » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:16 pm

Might be of interest. https://webwewant.org/
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by GeenDienst » Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:12 am

Martin Rees, the Astronomer General, isn't happy:
The night sky, the “vault of heaven”, is the one feature of our environment that has been shared, and wondered at, by all humanity through the ages. We should deplore anything that needlessly degrades its beauty and serenity, just as, more parochially, we don’t want tinsel or phone masts in our national parks.
And being an astronomer, he can predict the future.
Just tell 'em I'm broke and don't come round here no more.

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by cvb » Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:20 am

GeenDienst wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:12 am
Martin Rees, the Astronomer General, isn't happy:
The night sky, the “vault of heaven”, is the one feature of our environment that has been shared, and wondered at, by all humanity through the ages. We should deplore anything that needlessly degrades its beauty and serenity, just as, more parochially, we don’t want tinsel or phone masts in our national parks.
And being an astronomer, he can predict the future.
No he can't. Astronomy has not been proven to predict the future.

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by dyqik » Mon Dec 30, 2019 12:10 pm

cvb wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:20 am
GeenDienst wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:12 am
Martin Rees, the Astronomer General, isn't happy:
The night sky, the “vault of heaven”, is the one feature of our environment that has been shared, and wondered at, by all humanity through the ages. We should deplore anything that needlessly degrades its beauty and serenity, just as, more parochially, we don’t want tinsel or phone masts in our national parks.
And being an astronomer, he can predict the future.
No he can't. Astronomy has not been proven to predict the future.
It has.

That's how we manage to point the telescopes in the right places.

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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Gfamily » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:46 pm

Interesting.
Maybe the FCC should have been required to include an Environmental Impact Assessment before permitting the Starlink constellation.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... n-unlawful
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:08 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:46 pm
Interesting.
Maybe the FCC should have been required to include an Environmental Impact Assessment before permitting the Starlink constellation.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... n-unlawful
That is interesting! I often ponder on the appropriate scope of environmental impact assessments- focussing on areas that humans value the most is a mixed bag, but this is a clear case where that argument results in what feels like the right outcome, where other approaches wouldn't. Very interesting. Thanks.
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Re: Starlink ruining the night sky

Post by Gfamily » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:10 am

The International Astronomical Union has asked a variety of organisations to assess the possible/likely effects ...
https://www.iau.org/news/pressreleases/detail/iau2001/
My avatar was a scientific result that was later found to be 'mistaken' - I rarely claim to be 100% correct
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