RFO Speaker Series: Who Owns the Night Sky? with Aparna Venkatesan

  • Thu, Jan 26, 2023 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Pacific Standard Time

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Join RFO and Aparna Venkatesan, cosmologist in USF's Department of Physics and Astronomy, for an informative conversation on "Who Owns the Night Sky?"


Space is increasingly privatized, a trend that has only escalated over the pandemic years with the unrelenting launch of satellite swarms by corporations. At just a few percent of the number of planned satellites in low-Earth orbits (LEO), we are already seeing dramatic changes in the night skies and increasing environmental degradation resulting from LEO crowding. I share modeling results and broader impacts of current and future LEO initiatives, as the consequences will reach far beyond this century. I also share the need to intentionally include underrepresented communities in developing ethical policies for sustainable space exploration and the essential right to dark skies. Brighter night skies from increasing space debris affect many constituencies across humanity beyond professional astronomy, as well as the health of many ecosystems. Space is an ancestral global commons, and we must work together towards preserving the skies and space as a scientific, environmental and cultural resource.  


Aparna Venkatesan is a cosmologist in USF's Department of Physics and Astronomy, and a former NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow. She works on studies of the first stars and quasars in the universe, and is also actively involved in projects in cultural astronomy and space policy. She has been recognized internationally for her research and DEI leadership, featured widely in the media, and received numerous prizes and awards including the USF Dean's Scholar Award, the USF Arthur Furst Award for excellence in research for the betterment of humanity, and the (co-recipient of the) USF College of Arts and Sciences Collective Achievement Award for Supporting Women in STEM Fields. Dr. Venkatesan is deeply committed to increasing the retention of underrepresented groups in astronomy and STEM, and is active in developing scientific partnerships with Indigenous communities worldwide.




Date & Time

Thu, Jan 26, 2023 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Robert Ferguson Observatory

The Valley of the Moon Observatory Association (VMOA) is volunteer amateur and professional astronomers plus a small supporting staff organized as a nonprofit association to provide educational programs about science and astronomy for students, the public, and in support of educators.

The VMOA is responsible for the construction, maintenance and utilization of the Robert Ferguson Observatory and functions as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under the auspices of the California State Parks System, and in cooperation with our local state parks.

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