(meteorobs) Re: Iridium flares

Brian Skiff wrote:
> I share your frustration and foreboding. Astronomers find themselves
> between Motorola and the money it wants to make. What was that line from
> Watership Down?  As they look upon the ruin of their warren one asks why
> the people had destroyed their homes and one of the rabbits replied that
> it was nothing personal-"We just got in their way". All this so the cell
> phone set can talk with less interference about shopping. Organized action
> will be needed, but I can't think of any vulnerable spot in the corporate
> structure. Is anyone sharper than myself ready to throw in ideas?

Wonderful (and eclectic) to quote Watership Down, Brian! :)

By the way, one technical question opponents of bright flashers should probably 
answer before they attempt to affect policies is - what CAN be done to make new 
satellite constellations like Iridium *less destructive* to astronomical 
research and enjoyment of the night sky?

For with all due respect to Brian, I don't think characterizing this as an 
"astronomers versus yuppies" debate will take us very far: particularly since 
recent newcomers to the "cell phone set" are more likely to be working mothers 
or small businesspeople... These satellites will go up, one way or another: far 
better for us if they can be constructed just as easily of components which are 
less reflective (or show smaller reflective areas to the ground) than those in 
current designs.

I think it may also help in the long run, to keep in sight the concerns of ALL 
potentially interested parties - non-astronomers and amateurs as well as 
professional radio and visual astronomers. This then opens up for us some very 
powerful arguments: imagine describing graphically, in a broad public forum, 
the effect on our children of finally (and basically irrevocably) obliterating 
the night sky which we and our ancestors took for granted. That ends up tying 
this back to the issue of Light Pollution reduction, too!

PS: And if you're worried about photometry, imagine the effects of non-stop -7 
skyflares on dark-adapted visual meteor observers. :( In fact, to the extent 
that meteor observing benefits from the current "PHA" and meteor storm 
hysterias, perhaps public perception could even be turned to consider artifical 
sky flashes a threat to our survival? :)

Just my $0.02,
Lew Gramer

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