Lot: When the Internet threatens the Black Triangle of Quercy

the essential
Already hampered by light pollution in cities, astronomers now have to deal with dozens of American satellites sent into Earth orbit. Broadband sacrifices spatial observation…

We are not telling you anything by saying that the Lot has one of the most beautiful skies in France, or even in Europe. The famous Black Triangle of Quercy – named after this space where, in the heart of the causses, the virtual absence of light pollution makes it clear to observe the starry sky – is the pride of the inhabitants at nightfall, when it is to raise your nose towards this bluish vault which reveals all its wonders. The department is also full of astronomy enthusiasts, more or less amateurs, who do not hesitate to stick their eyes at the end of a telescope as soon as the opportunity arises.

This is particularly the case for members of the astronomy club of Gigouzac, north of Cahors. Last Friday, the club organized a sky observation session open to the public. On the program: discovery of stars, constellations and shots. Except that the evening was marked by an unusual appearance…

A pack of satellites

“We suddenly saw a cohort of about sixty white dots appear, forming a column and crossing the night sky from side to side,” says Bernard Deleris, secretary of the association. Could this be the start of a proper alien invasion? Not at all. This intrusion is of human origin. For several years, the Starlink company, owned by the American billionaire Elon Musk, has been developing a program to provide Internet access via satellite.
The goal ? Being able to connect from anywhere in the world. For this, the richest man in the world plans to send thousands of satellites into orbit around the Earth, “no bigger than a washing machine”, specifies Bernard Deleris. A presence that is anything but discreet, which greatly annoys the attentive space watchers.

“I am thinking of professional astronomers for whom it must be complicated”

“It ruins our observations and our photos”, grumbles the secretary of the astronomy club of Gigouzac who relativizes however: “And still, we are only amateurs, enthusiasts. I am thinking of professional astronomers for whom it must be complicated. »
The situation is not going to improve. New shipments over our heads are allowed every year.

The second pollution front

The appearance of these parasitic satellites is not the first problem for observers of the cosmos. For several decades, astronomers have been fighting against light pollution emanating from cities. The Black Triangle of Quercy is also surrounded by several large cities such as Figeac, Cahors, Brive and Montauban. Enough to create very noticeable halos during observations.

“We try to raise awareness in the communities as much as possible. The Causses du Quercy regional natural park is very mobilized on the subject”, says Bernard Deleris, who mentions the existence of star villages. “Light pollution doesn’t just bother astronomers. It also disturbs nocturnal fauna and flora. Some insects no longer participate in pollination but are attracted to lights,” he laments.
A fight to be waged on two fronts to preserve the Black Triangle and its 5,000 stars observable each night.

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Lot: When the Internet threatens the Black Triangle of Quercy

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