Courtesy of Rocket Lab

The Humanity Star is a satellite that twinkles as it glides across the night sky, with its 65 panels reflecting the sun’s rays back to our planet

Talia Avakian
January 25, 2018

Look up in the sky and you soon might find yourself spotting a flashy disco ball satellite blinking back at you.

The Humanity Star is a satellite that twinkles as it glides across the night sky, with its 65 panels reflecting the sun’s rays back to our planet.

Spaceflight startup Rocket Lab announced the satellite's launch on Thursday, with founder and CEO Peter Beck saying the probe is a way to bring human beings together and allow them to contemplate the universe.

“Humanity is finite, and we won’t be here forever; yet in the face of this almost inconceivable insignificance, humanity is capable of great and kind things when we recognize we are one species, responsible for the care of each other, and our planet, together,” Beck wrote on Rocket Labs’ website.

“The Humanity Star is to remind us of this.”

The 3-foot-wide sphere is made out of carbon fiber and spins on its side as it dances across the sky, orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes and gracing the entire globe with its light.

According to Rocket Lab representatives, the Humanity Star is visible at dawn and dusk when it passes overhead, but timing can play a part, too. You can currently monitor where you’ll be able to see the object through Rocket Lab's Humanity Star tracker.

Scientists told Quartz they expect visibility to become more pronounced on the US mainland in late February and March.

“It can definitely be the brightest object in the night sky, if it catches the light ‘just right,” and if it’s tumbling fast enough that should happen pretty often in all directions,” Jim Clark, who studies at MIT’s STARlab, told the site.

Not everyone, however, is excited about the disco ball satellite's launch. Its reflective properties have some astronomers and scientists concerned about potential impediments to their own research, like light pollution and obstructions.

The disco ball satellite will remain in orbit for nine months before it begins to disintegrate and drop from its path.

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