That Giant, Pointless Disco Ball in the Sky Is About to Come Back Down to Earth

The Humanity Star aims to be the brightest 'artificial star' in the night sky for at least the next nine months. . (Photo: Humanity Star)

Turn your eyes skyward, and you might just spy the world's first giant orbiting disco ball as it descends towards Earth.

More elegantly known as the "Humanity Star," this three-foot-wide, carbon-fiber geodesic sphere was fitted with 65 reflective panels and launched into orbit on Jan. 21. It orbited Earth every 90 minutes at speeds of over 30,000 feet per second.

It's sole purpose? To reflect enough of the sun's light to briefly make it the brightest object in the night sky.

The unusual satellite is the brainchild of Peter Beck, CEO of the U.S. aerospace company Rocket Lab. The company successfully launched three commercial satellites and the previously-undisclosed Humanity Star on its Electron two-stage rocket from a launch pad in New Zealand.

Originally, Beck claimed the satellite would stay in orbit for nine months. But sadly just like the short-lived disco era of the 70s, his beloved disco-ball satellite only lasted two months and will burn up once it re-enters Earth's atmosphere.

On a website detailing the artificial star, Beck waxed philosophical in January about the idea behind his pet project.

"Humanity is finite, and we won't be here forever," he states. "Yet in the face of this almost inconceivable insignificance, humanity is capable of great and kind things when we recognize we are one species, responsible for the care of each other, and our planet, together."

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck and his 'Humanity Star.'
Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck and his 'Humanity Star.'. (Photo: Rocket Lab)

"The Humanity Star is to remind us of this," he added. "No matter where you are in the world, rich or in poverty, in conflict or at peace, everyone will be able to see the bright, blinking Humanity Star orbiting Earth in the night sky. My hope is that everyone looking up at the Humanity Star will look past it to the expanse of the universe, feel a connection to our place in it and think a little differently about their lives, actions and what is important."

Pretty lofty, right? Chances are instead, most people looked up, saw his bright thing gliding by, and openly debated whether it's the International Space Station, aliens, or some new stunt from Elon Musk.

Those interested in catching a final glimpse of this celestial disco ball can track its orbit here.