Could we see spacedock in orbit?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Arpy, May 19, 2019.

  1. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How big would an object have to be to be seen with the naked eye in orbit - distances permitting?

    I wonder if the sky looks different in the Trek future with orbital habitats adding stars to the firmament.
     
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  2. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    I.S.S. in the night sky...
     
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  3. Antonovus

    Antonovus Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I have seen the ISS in orbit. I imagine the future trek night sky contains more lights from space stations and spacecrafts. However, there is also a much higher population and therefore more urban lighting which would block out the lighting from space.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I guess this depends on the timeline. When the Borg got their tubules on Earth, it sported nine billion people, and this was commented on with a tone of voice that suggested the figure differed radically from normal. But in which direction? In the Kelvinverse, Earth is teeming with arcologies (I presume, if we get to see ones at random in Riverside, Iowa), and at least San Francisco and London are bigger than today. In ST:TMP and the like, though, San Francisco remains a small town.

    Perhaps there are actually fairly few people around, these crowd themselves in a small number of superdense cities (including ones in orbit, like Spacedock!) or arco-boxes with very few windows compared to the number of inhabitants, and the skies are actually much darker than today?

    Of course, if we do believe everything we see, the zoom-in to Paris in DSC "Will You Take My Hand" suggests there's so much junk in orbit that it would be more or less impossible to see the full Moon. Even if it were towed much closer to Earth, such as also suggested in that pull-in...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The answer to 'light pollution" is twofold:

    1) reduce the amount of pollution in the air, especially particles that can reflect ground light back downwards.

    2) reduce the amount of light that is directed upwards. Redesigning streetlights, for example, to use wavelengths that will be bounced around in air the least, and using shades to point the main beams of the streetlight downwards so that less light goes up to the sky to be reflected back down.

    in the era of TOS or TNG it may be common for people to wear infrared sensing night vision goggle when they go out in the dark, or be accompanied by by drones which fly above them and shine light ahead of their feet.

    We are already working on 1). It will certainly be necessary to do 1) to make the air healthier in the Star Trek future, in order to make Earth a paradise like it is described.

    And there are already initiatives to work on 2) to reduce light pollution and restore the beauty of the night sky.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  6. Antonovus

    Antonovus Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes, the hopes are that light pollution will be reduced in the future. You aptly pointed out that the Star Trek is a paradise--so, I agree-- they probably found a way to reduce it.
     
  7. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Spacedock itself is far larger than the ISS. as may be other orbital habitats — cities in space. Maybe their distance to the planet is based on “visibility”(?) pollution as much as orbital physics. I wonder if there are “rivers” of objects that have to follow specific paths or sit quietly like stars in place, so as to not be too obtrusive. Or if the sky is littered with elegant “islands” of stations clearly visible as such or “constellations” of stations that might be mistaken for stars, or both.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In the Kelvin timeline, urban sprawl seemed to be permitted in every direction, including up and Iowa. It's difficult to say whether aesthetics would play a greater role in other timelines, with less obtrusive infrastructure. But quite possibly not. Light pollution is just a sign of progress, such as meadows and other unnatural alterations of the natural order...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, we are calling it light “pollution,” so “progress” might be about finding a way to clean that up too. In my view, all it takes is thought and effort.
     
  10. Finn

    Finn Bad Batch of TrekBBS Premium Member

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    Absolutely
     
  11. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Perhaps it could be seen, but factors such as distance from Earth might have to be factored in. Such as distance from the Earth , Does it orbit the Earth or is in geostationary orbit? If it's in geostationary orbit is it postioned above land or above an ocean?

    Sure it seems likely that as we can see the ISS from the surface at worst Spacedock might appear like another star in the night.
     
  12. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    We are actually not sure if the Earth's population in the 23rd century.

    In the late 24th, it was approximately 9 billion.
     
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  13. Antonovus

    Antonovus Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That's true. I forget about the fact that they all have other places to go now. Plus, they are essentially starting over from a massive catastrophe.
     
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  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Emphasis on "us". Future generations might simply embrace it. It's not as if anything man-made would have been turned invisible in world history so far: we're either complacent or downright proud of our high voltage lines, highways, high-rises and other high standards of life, even when every such innovation is first met with aesthetical critique.

    Would Trek be different? The cities there aren't camouflaged. The Moon looks different somehow. Alas, outside DSC, we only see Earth in daylight, so we get little idea of light pollution - but for example ST:FC does show half the Earth in shadow before the Borg tamper with time, and there's no artificial illumination whatsoever in evidence. Perhaps because there isn't any realistic darkness, either? Or because there's a blackout commanded to somehow deter the Borg? FWIW, no orbital sources of light are in evidence, either...

    For comparison, some views of Earth and the Moon at night in the 2250s. Looks like there will be zero improvement over today, to put it optimistically.

    Ecologically speaking, Earth fauna in Trek would face much greater challenges than light pollution. Assuming it survives (and we can't be sure of the specifics), extensive artificial solutions might be in place, somehow circumventing the visible light issue. Say, lighting customized to lack confusing polarization, to concentrate on harmless bands of the spectrum, whatnot?

    Or, more exactly, it was not.

    That is, when Data exclaims that the Borg have taken over and thoroughly altered Earth and things are not as they should, the very first sign of that is the fact that Earth now has a population of nine billion.

    I could see the Borg liquidating fifty billion as nonessential, leaving the nine. OTOH, I could also see them filling Earth to capacity and beyond even when mankind originally had settled on a reasonable upper limit of 750 million per planet. Within the 300 years of Borg occupancy of the place, there would be plenty of time to increase the population through procreation of humanoid Drones, or importing of said - and more than plenty to eliminate perceived excess. On the other hand, Earth after WWIII would have had plenty of opportunity to adjust its population downward, first through mass casualties in the postwar apocalypse, then through planning. Or to be fruitful and reach the high two digits atop nine zeroes.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  15. STR

    STR Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Depends on the distance.
    Spacedock is, supposedly, a bit under 4km wide and a bit over 5km long. Let's average that as 4.5km because the math assumes a circular object.

    If you it site it in geostationary orbit (35,786km), then it will be about 0.43 arc minutes (1 arc minute is 1/60 of a degree) wide from Earth. By comparison, Mars at its closest approach is about 0.41 minutes. It's probably rather reflective too, compared to dirt. So it would be a plainly visible dot in the night sky even in most cities.

    If you put it closer to earth, say 1000 km up, then it will take up 15.5 minutes. In comparison, the 1738km wide moon at its closest (perigee) to earth is 16 minutes. You will not only see it, but you'll be able to easily make out the major structures and surface features. At that distance, it will probably be reflective enough to make it easy to see at night, like a full moon. You'd be able to clearly see it in the daytime too.

    If you move it down to 400km, where the ISS orbits, it will be 38 minutes wide, more than half a degree, about 2 times wider than the moon. At that point, it will be distractingly huge in the sky day or night. When it's overhead, it would probably never get dark on the ground, but a faint twilight.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
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  16. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If a director thinks it'll make a good shot, they'd make it visible. Like Vulcan in the sky from Delta Vega, or any number of other examples.
     
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  17. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Here is where Build The Enterprise Dan had it wrong.

    It would be cheaper to make an airship in the shape of a compact starship like Voyager, where it could fly low and people could see it.

    No spindly nacelle struts

    Large space-based-powersats people would see, and even then might night resolve into a disk in the naked eye.
     
  18. Defiler-Of-Redshirts

    Defiler-Of-Redshirts Commander Red Shirt

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    No way, Spacedock is only somewhat larger than an aircraft carrier and probably several hundred miles out in orbit (my own estimate from the appearance of Earth relative to Spacedock). You'd need a telescope to see it, even high-powered binoculars wouldn't do the job from that distance.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...The sheer number of well-lit portholes is unprecedented there, though. So at night, this would probably be one of the brightest stars in the sky.

    That is, the ISS has no illumination to speak of, but shines thanks to its reflective surfaces when it's out of darkness but not drowned out in brightness. Spacedock would shine throughout the night, as a compact fuzzy constellation of tiny starlets that nevertheless would easily match the intensity of real stars.

    This assuming that the odd angles observed in ST3 and its footage reuses, ST6 and DSC indicate the structure might present its sides to Earth on occasion, even though it's also possible the stem is "supposed" to point down and there are no lights at the bottom, by deliberate choice.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    the thousand foot enterprise-refit can not only enter the big mushroom spacedock, but can maneuver around inside it.