Look for the ‘disco ball’ in space on Monday morning

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The ‘star’ is actually a man-made mini satellite, which was sent into orbit by entrepreneur Peter Beck to act as a ‘disco ball’ for people across the world to view.

The metre-high sphere weighs just 22.7 lb and is covered in 76 reflective panels, which will make it look as if it is flashing as it spins through the sky.

Astronomer Neil Mahrer, of the Jersey Astronomy Club, said that he approved of the project, though he may not necessarily be tuning in on Monday to watch the Humanity Star pass overhead.

‘Professional astronomers were up in arms about it at first because there were concerns it would affect their work,’ he said.

‘If you’re taking an hour-long exposure of the sky, the last thing you want is something to fly across the picture.

‘But I think it is a very interesting idea and we already have to deal with planes and thousands of satellites up there, so I don’t think it will affect things.

‘I probably won’t be having a look at it through a scope because I’m quite used to seeing that type of thing, having watched the International Space Station a lot – which is more interesting because it’s bigger so you can see more detail.’

Mr Mahrer said that the successful launch of the Humanity Star, which will orbit the Earth for around nine months, showed how far technology had come in the last few years.

‘We are living in a time when access to space has changed so much,’ he said.

‘It’s becoming much more accessible and cheaper as the technology improves.’

A website for the project (humanitystar.com) allows people from around the world to type in their location and find out when the star will be visible. For Jersey, that time is 6.40 am on Monday, though that may change slightly nearer the time.

Mr Beck said that the intention of his one-off project was to get more people looking at the night sky, something Mr Mahrer agreed with.

‘I do approve of the concept, even if it is basically a disco ball in space,’ Mr Mahrer said.

‘I would advise people to have a pair of binoculars or a telescope at the ready and if they can’t see it this time – if there’s fog, for example – then there should be another couple of opportunities over the next few months.’

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