According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, as of the beginning of 2016 there are 1381 active satellites orbiting the Earth, and the United States’ Space Surveillance Network tracks about 8000 manmade orbiting objects of baseball-size and larger. NASA estimates debris larger than 1 cm to number more than half a million. The largest ones can be seen by eye—unresolved dots of light that move across the sky in minutes. For most astrophotographers, satellites are annoying streaks that can ruin hours of work. However, capturing a resolved image of an artificial satellite can pose an interesting challenge for a student, and such a project can provide connections between objects in the sky and commercial and political activities here on Earth.

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