Last summer seems so long ago, but a story we published this week got me thinking about a special experience I had in early September. I was at our family cottage on northern Georgian Bay with my daughter and son-in-law, who has an app on his phone that alerts him when the International Space Station is flying overhead. His phone went off just after dusk one night and so we rushed outside to look for the orbiting station. A few minutes later, a large and bright light traversed the sky on a southwest-to-northeast axis. It was quite the sight. Northern Georgian Bay is one of many places in Canada that’s superb star gazing territory – the lack of urban light pollution allows the Milky Way to gloriously project across the sky. I thought seeing the Space Station was something special, but then I read this great piece by Samantha Lawler, an assistant professor of astronomy of the University of Regina. She points out that SpaceX (which sent four astronauts to the International Space Station this week) will soon launch thousands of satellites into earth’s orbit. “No longer will you escape your city for a camping trip and see the stars unobstructed: you will have to look through a grid of crawling, bright satellites no matter how remote your location,” wrote Prof. Lawler.

Her article was one of our most-read stories of the last week. For your weekend pleasure, I’ve assembled the stories that were the most popular with our readers this week, as well as some of the most-read stories from other editions of The Conversation global network.

Have a great weekend and we’ll be back in your Inbox on Monday.

Scott White

CEO | Editor-in-Chief

Our most popular stories of the week

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are about to ruin stargazing for everyone

Samantha Lawler, University of Regina

SpaceX's satellites will populate the night sky, affecting how we observe the stars. And this is just the beginning of private satellite mega-constellations.

Trump’s election tantrum could still fuel widespread violence

Jack L. Rozdilsky, York University, Canada

Donald Trump continues to stoke his base with false allegations of a 'rigged' election, meaning widespread violence is still possible post-election as the U.S. devolves into a fragile state.

Polypropylene, the material now recommended for COVID-19 mask filters: What it is, where to get it

Catherine Clase, McMaster University; Charles-Francois de Lannoy, McMaster University; Scott Laengert, McMaster University

Everything you need to know about non-woven polypropylene, the fabric now recommended for use as a filter in cloth face masks: What it is, what to look for and where to find it.

Why Doug Ford is stumbling during COVID-19’s second wave

Mark Winfield, York University, Canada

Is Ontario Premier Doug Ford's mishandling of the second wave of COVID-19 a byproduct of his pro-business sympathies?

How plague reshaped colonial New England before the Mayflower even arrived

Matthew Patrick Rowley, University of Leicester

Power, plague and Christianity were closely intertwined in 17th-century New England.

200 years ago, people discovered Antarctica – and promptly began profiting by slaughtering some of its animals to near extinction

Daniella McCahey, Texas Tech University; Alessandro Antonello, Flinders University

For 200 years, a small number of countries have exploited the marine wildlife of Antarctica, often with devastating impact on their populations.

Courting the chameleon: how the US election reveals Rupert Murdoch’s political colours

Denis Muller, University of Melbourne

Murdoch has become very adept at changing colours to suit changing political landscapes – and the US election is yet another example of that.

Millions of people are on treatment for HIV: why are so many still dying?

Gilles van Cutsem, University of Cape Town

One of the main challenges remains that diagnostics and drugs for people suffering from advanced HIV aren't readily available. This group of people is vulnerable to deadly opportunistic infections.