Photographer Daniel López, who lives in the Canary Islands, thought to take a nice picture of Comet Neowise. That turned out differently. The composite comet photo taken has many ‘light trails’ or satellite stripes, from the SpaceX internet satellites.
Daniel López posted his photo on Facebook with an explanation in which he said that he was sorry that all those luminous points were passing by. The published photo is a composite of thirty photos, each of which had a shutter speed of 30 seconds. According to López, twenty of the thirty photos showed flying Starlink satellites flying by. Due to the stacking of several photos taken in succession and the applied relatively slow shutter speeds, the luminous dots of each Starlink satellite are visible here as multiple individual stripes.
Astronomers have complained about the “pollution” of celestial observations from Earth caused by reflections from the Starlink satellites. The International Astronomical Union previously even warned that satellite constellations such as those of SpaceX threaten observations of terrestrial telescopes. The concerns stem partly from SpaceX’s plans. The company plans to eventually bring the number of Internet satellites in low Earth orbit to 12,000, which could even increase to 42,000. There are currently around 540 Starlink satellites in orbit.
SpaceX seems willing to address the concerns. At the beginning of this year, the company launched a Starlink satellite with an anti-reflective coating . This satellite has a dark coating that should at least partially counter reflections.
Comet Neowise is still visible in clear weather, looking north. On July 22, the comet flew closest to Earth, at a distance of 103.5 million kilometers. Since July 16, the comet’s brightness has been slowly declining, as it moves farther from the sun and the Earth. It is likely that the comet will barely be visible to the naked eye by the end of this month, due to the diminished brightness and the fact that an almost full moon will be in the sky.