For all of human history, human beings have looked to the skies with wonder and intrigue, but today, the open sky is under attack. SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb and Telesat are flooding the skies with tens of thousands of satellites in order for people to connect to the internet all over the world. While granting access to the internet in remote areas is a good thing, it is achievable in other ways. This method of expanding internet access will come at a tremendous cost to something so basic as to be taken for granted: a clear night sky.
For most people living in densely populated areas, a clear night sky has already been robbed from you, by air and light pollution, disrupting wildlife and sensitive ecosystems. Some of you have never even had the privilege of seeing what the night sky actually looks like unless you travel out to a more remotely populated area. Once you do though, you can see why people have been so fascinated by the night sky. You can see why it inspired people to seek out and understand its significance, through math, physics and science, as well as divination, myth and religion. Put simply it is one of the most astonishing marvelous magical views one can see from Earth, period. And in 2020, it is now increasingly looking like this in telescopes:
It is bad enough that so many people have lost this vital connection to the night sky, but littering the sky with yet more space junk will further disconnect us from this miraculous view. It is already causing a massive headache for ground-based observatories. You might see astronomers talking about workarounds and taking advantage of certain times when the sky won’t be obstructed by satellites but I feel like this is avoiding the more fundamental question of whether the sky should be littered with a highly reflective chain of satellites in the first place.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. These satellites herald the end of ground-based visual astronomy. And maybe that sounds dramatic but if we allow private companies to build infrastructure in space, when will it end, where does it stop? There will be more and more and more. We’ll be subjected to trashy billboards in the sky. We’ll see a Coke ad float past the moon and see the McDonalds logo rise over the horizon. If we accept this now, there will eventually be no workarounds.
This low-key but extraordinary development makes perfect sense when you consider the astrological meaning of the current Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto copresence in late Capricorn. In my article “2020 Jupiter-Pluto Conjunction: Extreme Magnification”, I connected Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions to periods of time where the vistas of discovery extend to the microcosmic and macrocosmic levels through the development of microscopes and telescopes. In that article I wrote about the key difference between the 2020 Jupiter-Pluto conjunction and those before it – the copresence of Saturn:
“If Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions typically expand the vistas of discovery and magnify things on cosmic and microcosmic scales, then the presence of Saturn suggests there will be some element of contraction, limits or boundaries on those scales. It should be a bit of a bummer in some way. Perhaps this is when we will reach an apparent limit to how far we can see into the cosmos or how far we can see into the microcosmos. A maximum resolution, a maximum magnification, a final end to a frontier of discovery. Perhaps someone will be discovering a boundary to the universe, discovering the “walls” of a cosmic prison. Maybe this is when space travel properly meets capitalism and becomes corporatized, and this will be considered some sort of beginning point for space tourism.“
This has ended up being depressingly accurate. Space junk threatens the safety of future space travel, literally imprisoning us on this planet. The “walls to a cosmic prison” are of our own making, building that “final end to a frontier of discovery”. This corporatization/commercialization of the skies robs the amateur astronomer and ground-based observatories of a clear night sky. It will also rob future generations of the opportunity to view a clear night sky. An open view of the cosmos will only be available to powerful governments and companies operating telescopes in space. Astronomers and astrologers may be at odds but when it comes to the question of whether we should have an open sky free of unnecessary corporate space junk, we are definitely on the same side. It’s probably too late, but for all future human beings, we should take a stand against corporations cluttering up space. Get out somewhere dark and remote and take in the glorious night sky – while you still can.