Tomorrow is the day scheduled for ‘Mayak’ – a satellite star – to outshine other natural stars in the sky. Russia set July 14th the date for their mesmerizing creation, a fake star Mayak, to be launched in the sky from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket .
Mayak, which means ‘Beacon’ or ‘Lighthouse’ in english, is a reflective satellite having the sole purpose of shining brighter than any other star in the night. This fake star is actually the result of a successful crowdfunding campaign executed by the engineers of the University of Mechanical Engineering in Moscow; the idea attracted the space and tech organizations and collected approximately $30,000 for the creation of a satellite that can reflect sun light and can be seen shining in the sky from the Earth.
What is more interesting about the satellite star is its size which is as small as a rugby ball but after it will be freed in the orbit, about 600 kilometers (370 miles) high, the structure will expand and turn into a giant pyramid-shaped solar reflector. This is how it is designed; made up of thin reflective polymer film, makes it easy to launch and assures its long term survival in the space.
According to the calculations made by IFLScience, Mayak could be one of the brightest stars in the sky but it still wouldn’t be able to beat the shine of the Moon and the Venus. With a magnitude (a measure of brightness) of about -3.6, it will be the the fourth brightest object in the sky after the Sun, the Moon, and Venus. Other reports put it as bright as a magnitude of -10, which would make it brighter than Venus.
However, Astronomers are not really happy with its creation, calling it a ‘Nonsense’ and a useless creation which is doing nothing but ruining the exploration of dark skies. Nick Howes, an astronomer and former deputy director of the Kielder Observatory in Northumberland shared his views about Mayak with IFLScience, “We fight so hard for dark skies in and around our planet, To see this being potentially ruined by some ridiculous crowdfunded nonsense makes my heart simply despair.”
But the engineers argue that Mayak’s mission is not just to shine in the sky like a star but also play a role in testing how to brake satellites in orbit and finding more ways to de-orbit them as well. Apart from that, it will also become an inspiration for young people to get more interested in space and its exploration. Mayak is also intended to popularize Russia’s astronautics and space research in the world as well as outer space.
Is tomorrow really the day we’ll be able to witness the first fake star in the night’s sky? we don’t exactly know the answer to this question yet as no further announcement was made by Russia’s space agency after the date for its launch was released. So chances are that it might come as a surprise for many people, seeing ‘Mayak’ adjusting in the orbit, shining bright like a diamond in the sky tomorrow.