The photo draws attention to an important problem.
Fantastic Hungarian success was achieved at this year's international astrophotography competition at the Royal Museum in Greenwich. Rafael Schmall, colleague of the Zselic Star Park won first place in the “People and Space” category in the world's most prestigious competition on this topic, the „Insight Investment Astronomy of the Year 2020”. The value of success is increased by the fact that the prestigious recognition will come to Hungary for the second time after László Francsics' overall first place last year.
The image, titled “Prison of Technology,” not only earned the jury’s recognition for its brilliant photographic solution, but also draws attention to an important issue with its choice of subject. In the image taken with a long exposure time, the thin white stripes in the foreground of the stars are actually commercial satellites. There are more and more of these objects around our planet: Starlink alone, company of Elon Musk, plans to launch more than ten thousand pieces, and they’re not the only ones.
Although the satellites are not visible to the naked eye, they increase the brightness of the sky measurably. Despite the fact that we are building larger and more professional astronomical telescopes at a significant cost, the sky, which is becoming “noisier” due to satellites, makes scientific research difficult or even impossible. This disruptive effects causes inconvenience to researchers and amateurs scanning the stars as well.
Rafael Schmall, who has a serious reputation in Hungary, has already received recognition from NASA and twice won the National Geographic Hungary Astrophotography of the Year award, and these days he even has a permanent exhibition of his pictures in the Zselic Star Park near Kaposvár.