It would cost $65 million to run 60 seconds of advertising on Twilight Above Cities. What a Disgusting Idea

Light pollution is a serious problem for humanity and it is getting worse. The creep of LED lights around the world over the past decade has caused the sky to glow, so much so that urban stargazing is becoming much more difficult.

Now another insidious type of light pollution is being discussed in a recent study published in the journal Aerospace.

It examines the possibility of a space advertising mission. Yes, that’s right — advertising in the night sky. Researchers from Skoltech, a private university in Moscow, Russia, studied the economic feasibility of launching a bundle of satellites into orbit to fly in formation and reflect sunlight to project advertisements into the sky above cities.

This is definitely the ultimate definition of space junk.

“Unrealistic as it may seem, we show that space advertising based on 50 or more small satellites flying in formation could be economically viable,” said Shamil Biktimirov, co-author and intern at Skoltech’s Engineering Center.

They arrived at a tentative cost of $65 million.

The concept uses small CubeSats that, however, each unfurl a 32 square meter solar sail to maximize reflectivity, although since they reflect sunlight, they would only operate an hour after sunset (or before sunrise helium).

There are several factors that affect how much money could be made, from cloud cover to the demographics of the city in which the ads are displayed.

The model works by picking the most profitable city and running an ad there for one minute before moving on to the next. So maybe only big cities – already affected by light pollution – would visit these monsters.

There are two aspects of this concept to be concerned about.

The first is that the study finds that space advertising is commercially viable. The authors show that space advertising revenue could reach about $2 million a day for a one-minute run of ads in a profitable city. So the mission should only take a little over a month to break even. The researchers argue that such a mission could operate for several months.

The second is the cavalier attitude of researchers to light pollution. In the paper, the researchers say that concerns about light pollution are unwarranted, as ads could only be shown at sunrise or sunset — not at night — and that it would only be cost-effective to run ads in large cities that are already exposed to permanent light pollution. For example, they would not be visible from anywhere observatories study the night sky.

This is such a massive disrespect to the people in the cities, a huge disservice to the wildlife that lives in them and completely misunderstands the value of twilight.

No, professional astronomy doesn’t happen in cities. So what? There are many astronomers. I would argue that the majority of amateur astronomers live in cities. Yes, you can go stargazing in London. Ride the High Line in Manhattan and you’ll find members of the New York Amateur Astronomical Society looking at stars, planets and galaxies. The last thing the iconic Griffith Observatory in Hollywood, Los Angeles needs is even more light pollution in the form of logos for car companies or fast food brands.

Twilight is a wonderful and incredibly important time. It is when the birds rest and the stars come out. It’s time to look for planets low on the horizon and spot a crescent moon.

It is when the night window opens and it always has. Commercials are for TVs, not twilight.

I wish you clear skies and open eyes.

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