Jonathan C. McDowell

Altitude effects

Section 7: Altitude and surface brightness effects

The effects of a satellite constellation on astronomy depend on the satellite's altitude both directly and through changes in surface brightness of the streaks.

Direct effects of altitude:

Surface brightness effects:

The surface brightness of a streak is important because:

Below I simulate a constellation of 10,000 satellites at various altitudes. In each case the inclination is 53 degrees and there are 32 orbital planes; the calculation is done for midsummer at latitude 30 south.

The plot shows the number of illuminated satellites above 20 degees elevation versus time of night. You can see from the figure that with the same number of satellites, higher altitude constellations are more visible.

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