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DARK SKY HAPPENINGS - September 2022

Moab UT (at City Hall)
38O34’ N Latitude
109O33’ W Longitude
4048 ft - 1234 m

Satellite Light Pollution
Richard Lory, Moab City Sustainability VISTA

(The time of sunrise and sunset assumes a flat horizon. Actual time may vary depending upon the landscape.)

As Moab moves toward designation as an International Dark Sky Community, with the goal of maintaining our beautiful night skies for generations to come, there may be other orbital challenges that we as a global community will need to overcome. Satellites and accompanying space debris reflect light, adding additional pollution to the night sky.

In an article titled Satellite Light Pollution, John Barentine, an astronomer and Dark Sky Consultant states, “Companies like SpaceX have announced plans to launch more than 100,000 satellites into low-Earth orbit in the 2020s. Crowding these orbits with so many objects risks collisions between them, generating thousands of pieces of wreckage.

It would be one thing if the satellites were just bright, moving points of light in the night sky. That’s distracting and takes something away from seeing a dark, natural night sky. But all those satellites and the collision debris they produce could brighten the night sky itself. We modeled the situation in 2021 and concluded that even before the first Starlink launch, space objects raised the brightness of the night sky by about 10% over an assumed natural background level.”

Barentine goes on to state that astronomers have been engaging these companies, and that a few have voluntarily changed their design to reflect less light. This approach may have already reached its limit though. Astronomers have been vocal and hope to add structure to this new frontier that is currently akin to the “wild west”.

John Barentine’s article gives a cornucopia of links to studies and articles, and is a fantastic place for those of you wanting to do further research. The article was published in the Colorado Plateau Dark Skies website and can be found here:


Sep 3 - First Quarter at 12:07pm
Sep 10 - Full Moon at 10:36pm
Sep 17 - Third Quarter at 3:52pm
Sep 25 - New Moon at 3:54pm

Moab Dark Skies mission is to promote the appreciation and conservation of Moab’s valuable and rare dark skies. Moab Dark Skies was established by the Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks in conjunction with the National Park Service and Utah State Parks Division of Natural Resources

For more information, check out our Facebook page.

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