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Home News IAU meeting seeks ways to mitigate impact of satellites on astronomy

IAU meeting seeks ways to mitigate impact of satellites on astronomy

Dec. 15, 2023
In October, a prestigious international meeting brought together face-to-face for the first time some 250 astronomers, legal experts, policy-makers, Indigenous leaders, and industry to discuss the impact of satellites on astronomy.

The 385th symposium to be granted by the International Astronomical Union was dedicated to astronomy and satellite constellations and finding pathways forward in a new environment. Hosted by the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands in La Palma, the meeting brought together experts from different fields in a programme developed by the CPS.

Technical sessions concentrated on challenges to radio and optical astronomy, to X-ray astronomy, spectroscopy, space-based observations, and to amateur astronomy. They also addressed strategies for co-existence in all of these categories, such as better models and data to measure satellite brightness and radio emissions which are key to enabling any sort of mitigation or for active avoidance. Recent efforts by the CPS to measure the emissions of Starlink satellites over radio telescopes were highlighted. Talks also covered better modeling and understanding of satellite spectra to enable satellite emissions to be calibrated out of astronomical data, as well as calling for the development of better software solutions for streak detection and elimination, and discussing ongoing observation campaigns, such as those of the Bluewalker3 satellite.

Policy discussions centred around efforts to raise awareness in international and diplomatic circles and influence policy-making. Progress in such policy-making in countries all around the world was highlighted with the general message that steady interaction with policymakers and industry is required to raise awareness and promote the protection of dark and quiet skies. Recent success in influencing policy or raising awareness at the highest levels was also highlighted, such as securing a statement on dark and quiet skies from G7 science ministers, and the agreement between the NSF and SpaceX to mitigate the impact of Starlink satellites.

Indigenous speakers also shared perspectives on their relationship with the sky and cosmos, and explored environmental and cultural aspects of these topics.

Finally, a panel discussion brought together industry experts and representatives from SpaceX, who provided an update on Starlink satellites and their mitigation measures, followed by a Q&A with meeting participants.

You can watch the video summary of the meeting here:

The full programme is available here.


Mathieu Isidro

Communications and Outreach Lead
IAU Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky From Satellite Constellation Interference
mathieu.isidro@cps.iau.org / mathieu.isidro@skao.int


Poster for the IAU symposium on astronomy and satellite constellations


Satellites' impact on astronomy: international meeting seeks solutions
"Protecting the sky is the core mission because without the sky there is no science of astronomy" - International Astronomical Union President-Elect Prof. Willy Benz's call to action on dark and quiet skies at the IAU Symposium on Astronomy and Satellite Constellations. See more


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