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The Humanity Star (thehumanitystar.com)
78 points by banku_brougham on Jan 25, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments

Neat, but if you're going to stand outside and night and look to the sky for shining beacons that represent our fragile place in the universe, there are already thousands upon thousands of options up there.

If I wanted to share that experience of awe with a child, I would talk about the planets and stars. About man-made objects (and people) in space probing the edges of our knowledge. About time and distance. Not about a large disco ball.

Graffiti on the sky. Ironically, to serve as a "reminder to all on Earth about our fragile place in the universe."

It reminds me a bit of the commemorative orbital plaque in Planetes that Debris Section has to perform a controlled atmospheric reentry on. The newcomer to the team is distraught that they have to destroy a monument to peace, but when she finally has a chance to read it moments before burn, she realizes that even it was only ever a piece of propaganda.

This is a colossal advertising stunt masquerading as a humanitarian gesture. Remember when everyone got upset at the possibility of an orbiting Pepsi logo?

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=1G5UzG2Z6A4C&pg=PA99&lpg=P...

[2] http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/reports/ac105/AC105_777E.pdf

It's only a matter of time -or- Please shoot me when it happens

Or to remember the guy who funded it. This whole thing reminds me of Bender’s massive statue blowing flames and intoning, “Remember Me!!!” We already share the Sun and Moon, and Iridium network if it comes to that.

It's only up for nine months.

It's not the first light pollution art project in orbit, and won't be the last.

That sort of shoots my cynicism full of holes, huh? Oh well.

It's more like elevator music. I'd compare it to fitting the Grand Canyon with a vast network of PA speakers that plays Kenny G every evening at dusk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvylHVHB5Vo . (I suppose it's also not altogether unlike carving presidents into the side of Mount Rushmore.) More confirmation that we're living in a Douglas Adams/William Gibson collaboration. #ourdouglasadamspresent

Hey that's pretty fun.

Thanks for posting this. I wonder if I could see it from the city. It's supposed to be visible in 41 days for about 4 minutes. It would be nice if they could have a little bit more accurate timing, though.

After you enter your location, click the hamburger menu button in the top right corner of the map. It gives the ETA time to the second, the duration, and the angle from north.

Now if only there was an app that let you set a weather dependent alarm so I don't wake up at 3 am to a cloudy sky.

ISS Detector has this! Well, you can get push notifications when sightings are about to occur, and it takes weather info into account.

I'm not sure if it tracks the Humanity Star yet, but they've mentioned it on their twitter so I can see it being available soon:


Thank you for sharing this, very cool!

Hmm, for Portland OR it tells me cheerfully "You will not be able to see the satellite within the next 2087 hours. Please check again later." I guess that's only one third of the time until it de-orbits, so I may still get a chance.

Same for New York. That seems ... incorrect to me, given that it's in a polar orbit and completes an orbit every 90 minutes. It ought to be passing over me fairly often, no?

You can't see it during the day and you can't see it when it's in Earth's shadow.

I also got that result for every city I tried in BC and Alberta, even though the path looks like it goes right through there soon. Not sure if I misunderstand the map though.

Same for Ottawa.

Time of day matters in addition to location, as you'll only be able to see it just after dusk or just before dawn when the sky is dark but the sun is still reflecting off the satellite

I missed that. Thanks!

This would be better if it was bigger, and stayed in orbit longer, and ... had people on it, and represented international cooperation of a species dreaming of a future among the stars!

Don't look now.....

"Trump administration plans to cut funding to International Space Station"



It was funded through 2024 and Trump cut its funding to 2025? This guy has a hard time accomplishing his goals.

And then was de-orbited for a chance to win tacos from a fast food restaurant!

Woah... my day is made.

Taco Bell, the American fast food chain, announced Monday that it will give every American a free taco if a piece of Mir strikes a 40 x 40 foot floating target off the coast of Australia labeled "Free Taco Here!" The company said that it has taken out an insurance policy to cover the cost of the tacos should a piece hit the target.


Are you saying the next ISS re-supply mission should include a strobe light?

Assuming Heavens Above [1] is right this satellite will have a maximum magnitude of 4 which is really faint. There are over 500 brighter stars in the night sky [2].

If this is supposed to be an ad for Rocket Lab(I suppose it is, after all we already have ISS orbiting over us) they could do a lot better.

[1] http://www.heavens-above.com/PassSummary.aspx?satid=43168 (set your location in the top right corner)

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apparent_magnitude

edit: spelling

Iridium already provides this no?


For a little while longer... The new fleet doesn't flare. Once all the older generation birds are retired, there will be no more Iridium flares.

That wins the "saddest news of this day" for me :(. I still remember waking up at absurd hours to chase the flares when I was a teenager.

On a similar note, the sun and the moon are the only two objects people across time and space all were/are able to see. Not even the stars are a shared experience.

I'm not sure what you mean. Venus, Mars, Jupiter, are Saturn visible from anywhere on earth for some portion of the year.

You are right. I forgot about the visible planets. They didn't come to my mind since I've rarely seen them since I've only lived in light-polluted cities all my life.

yes please clarify. Northern and southern skies are different, so yes not all humanity has seen the same stars. But ‘stars’ as visible phenomena in the night sky are a universal human experience. Ditto was someone said about venus mars jupiter and saturn.

That's true, but I'm trying to find specific objects that are universally shared. I mean, drinking water is also a universal experience.

Yes true, the universe is full of things that aren’t literally the same but pretty much the same. That would be an interesting list.

Congrats to NZ and Rocket Lab for joining the elite club of orbit-capable rocketeers. It's a huge achievement.

Surprised there's so much complaining about a test payload. Everyone's a critic, so I'll be one too:

"FAQ: How long will it remain in orbit? The Humanity Star will orbit the Earth for approximately nine months before its orbit starts to decay and it is pulled back into the Earth’s gravity."


Whatever happened to carving your name into the moon?

That needs to wait until Falcon Heavy is in service.

I mean I hate to break it to the guy but: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun we've already had one of these, for a while now.

Pretty sure I would like the sun to not start flashing like a disco ball...

This makes me irrationally cross for some reason. A bit more pollution of the already awesome (if you can see it) night sky.

Let's paint smily faces on the side of Everest next.

At least it'll burn up on reentry in 9 months. Still, its a little bit grin-inducing to watch the big, useless disco ball in space streak by.

This is such a shallow and narcissistic gesture.

I think the tracking server is flaking out under load.

I got "You will not be able to see the satellite within the next 2087 hours. Please check again later." for multiple places - San Francisco, Toronto, and St. Louis.

Upon retrying San Francisco: "The Humanity Star has the highest chance of visibility in in [sic] 39 days. It will last about 3 minutes."

Try N2YO[1] or Heaven's Above.[2]

You can track it yourself using the TLE, and a program like gPredict[3].




I've been toying with a conceptual project that would propose to build a large-ish structure (monolith) on the moon which would serve multiple long term goals.

1. Be large enough and positioned strategically to cast a shadow or project an image onto the surface of the moon large enough to be seen with the eye (or minimal telescopic aid). The image would be a clear indication to any intelligent beings that another intelligent being had placed it there intentionally and, with enough resolution, communicate wavelength and modulation information for #2.

2. Be a solar-powered radio transceiver sending signals to earth on the specified wavelength which repeatedly communicate information about the monolith and additional frequencies to send codes and receive more data to access deeper, denser information. These additional frequencies and codes would be used to unlock designs for rockets, telemetry, etc. necessary for intelligent and resourceful beings to travel from earth to the monolith location on the moon.

3. On the outside of the monolith would be carved further information on how to access the deepest storage of the monolith and decode the digital information within.

4. The inside of the monolith would contain the densest data storage containing the sum total of human knowledge, as well as cryogenically frozen embryos and genetic information for various species of Earth from our time period (including us, of course) and data on how they could possibly be unfrozen, replicated and/or brought back to life.

Assuming what I've outlined is possible, this project would leverage our best shared satellite (the moon) to create a shared experience (the monolith projection) and also serve as a time capsule that could outlive us should any of the many existential threats posing our species come to pass before we establish ourselves in space. Call it the ultimate hedge.

Given the stability of the moons surface, nothing short of a close impact would disturb this monument to humanity and our shared knowledge. And should our surviving descendants, a future evolved intelligent species, or a visitor from another star come to find Earth, they would also potentially find our legacy, and give us the faintest chance at being restored.

Anyone think I have a chance at raising a few 10s of billion with on kickstarter? Or else got a personal line to Elon?

PS - Yes, 2001 was an inspiration and I have definitely been envisioning the 1:4:9 design when thinking about this.

I can't tell if this is a real thing already in orbit or a Kickstarter.

it's in orbit

Semi-relevant Vsauce video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8I25H3bnNw The Moon as a disco ball.

"Orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes and visible from anywhere on the globe…"

"You will not be able to see the satellite within the next 2087 hours. Please check again later."

I got the same results for a bunch of random places. Los Angeles, Paris France, Moscow and "Texas".

Sydney Australia and Tel Aviv Israel gave me a time to view it - but it's weeks away.

Maybe that's as far out as they can or will predict its visibility? 2088 hours is 87 days, even.

Coming soon, the "RippleStar", and soon afterward the bright orange "5 Hour Energy Star", to promote the shared human desire for a long-lasting, sugar-free revitalizing experience!

It claims to have 65 mirrored faces ... which polyhedral solid has 65 faces?

An irregular one ... look at the logo, and there is a photo at the bottom of the page.

(60 would have been much better https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentakis_dodecahedron :( )

We already have a star, called the sun.

This was a worthwhile usage of time, money, and energy!

It was a test payload on an experimental vehicle.

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