If we soon start seeing the Brightest. Star. Ever… on a regular basis, it’s probably Mayak.
Not a “star,” really, but another light in the night sky… a really bright one… a slick satellite designed by some college kids in Russia, scheduled to launch tomorrow (2017 July 14), and to be visible in orbit starting July 17.
On a scale of 1 to 10… 10 being the brightest?…
- 1: Sirius will still be the brightest star in the sky.
- 4: Venus, the brightest planet.
- 6: International Space Station, the brightest manmade object (until now).
- 10: Mayak might outshine them all.
For comparison, the moon and sun would break the scale, shining at 13 and 27, respectively.
So, Mayak is likely to be the brightest thing in the night sky besides the moon.
Mayak is a small satellite (the size of a loaf of bread) that, once in orbit, will unfurl four delicate mirrors in a large pyramid shape to reflect sunlight back to Earth.
The satellite will literally tumble around the Earth, doing a somersault about every second, so it might look like a blinking star. (Think disco ball with only 4 mirrors, not hundreds… and the brightest flashes will happen on those rare moments of exact reflection angle between you, Mayak, and the sun.)
The student project will also provide some useful technical data to scientists relating to atmospheric density at 610 km, relative brightness of other satellites, drag sails, and the elimination of space debris.
(Read more… )
Though the luster of Mayak may compromise the darkness needed by a few serious stargazers, I suspect most everyone else will welcome this bright, new member of the celestial family.