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Stargazers have a new object to look for as a disco ball-shaped satellite shimmers in the night sky.
The aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab performed a test launch of their Electron rocket from New Zealand on Jan. 21. The launch was a success and was able to deliver the payload of the Humanity Star into orbit around the Earth.
The rocket also successfully deployed three small commercial satellites into space for Plane Labs and Spire Global.
“Created by Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck, the Humanity Star is a geodesic sphere made from carbon fiber with 65 highly reflective panels,” according to the Humanity Star website.
Introducing The Humanity Star - a bright, blinking satellite now orbiting Earth, visible to the naked eye in the night sky. Launched on #StillTesting, The Humanity Star is designed to encourage everyone to look up and consider our place in the universe. Website coming soon pic.twitter.com/wvIEcXelVk— Rocket Lab (@RocketLab) January 24, 2018
The new reflective satellite orbits the Earth about once every 90 minutes with the sole purpose of being visible for people all around the world to see.
“No matter where you are in the world, rich or in poverty, in conflict or at peace, everyone will be able to see the bright, blinking Humanity Star orbiting Earth in the night sky,” Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said.
How to view the Humanity Star
Those wanting to see the new satellite will need to do a little planning as it will not be visible every day.
The Humanity Star will be best seen when it passes overhead around dawn and dusk and should be visible with the naked eye.
It will also appear much differently than other man-made objects in the sky, such as the International Space Station.
Instead of being a moving point of light, the Humanity Star will appear to flicker as it tracks across the sky due to its angled panels. It is also estimated to appear dimmer than the International Space Station.
The Humanity Star, as spotted by Kieran Fanning on 28 Jan 2018 from Banks Peninsula, NZ, looking over Kaitorete Spit. Have you seen it yet? Track it at https://t.co/nCN9vQ9vAv Share your pics and video of passes with us. You'll need to be quick - passes only last a few seconds! pic.twitter.com/xYjvPqVxe3— Humanity Star (@TheHumanityStar) February 12, 2018
To find out when the Humanity Star will be visible from a particular city or neighborhood, people will need to go to TheHumanityStar.com, scroll down to the map and enter their location. This will show when the best opportunity is to view the satellite next.
For many areas in the United States, the satellite will be visible in early March, although the exact time and date will vary based on location.
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People hoping to see the Humanity Star in the night sky should plan to look for it sooner rather than later as it will only be visible for a few months.
According to the satellite’s website, the Humanity Star will only orbit the Earth for around nine months before the pull of Earth's gravity causes it to re-enter and burn up in the atmosphere.
Until then, people around the globe will have the opportunity to see the satellite in the sky.
“My hope is that everyone looking up at the Humanity Star will look past it to the expanse of the universe, feel a connection to our place in it and think a little differently about their lives, actions and what is important,” Beck said.
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