If you want to get attention, launching your own satellite is as good a way as any, but Peter Beck and his Rocket Lab probably weren't expecting the avalanche of outrage that greeted the launch of a sparkly shiny thing self-importantly named the Humanity Star but soon demystified to Giant Orbiting Disco Ball.

How very dare he? Astronomers and others found all sorts of reasons to hate it.

"A business card in the sky" and "flying billboard" were among the kinder descriptions.

Admittedly, the launch was accompanied by a ream of high-falutin' corporate palaver.


"The Humanity Star is a reminder to all on Earth about our fragile position in the universe. The project aims to draw people's eyes up and encourage them to look past day-to-day issues and consider a bigger picture."

Wriggle-making stuff. But if you wanted to be offended by either the ball or the accompanying notes, you really had to work hard at it.

Unlike other billboards it's easy to miss. In fact, if you do want to see it you will need the help of a website that shows you where in the sky to look and when.

And, yes, we probably don't need a GODB to help us "consider our place in the universe". Astrophysicists have been working on that for some time.

Many of those scientists are struggling with the mere fact of the ball's existence.

University of Auckland physics professor Richard Easther was less than impressed, calling the GODB a "cheesy stunt". Which of course it is, but it's also something that exists purely to delight those who care to be delighted.

It serves no useful purpose. Oscar Wilde would have loved it. "All art is useless," he said.

"So, according to Trump-era entrepreneurs, flashing disco balls in space are the way to promote philosophical reflection," complained local astronomer Ian Griffin.


"I beg to differ. That's why next week I will be watching the eclipse and reflecting how a supposedly green nation has vandalised the night. #sad"

If you're going to bag Trump – and it's hardly Beck's fault Trump is President at this moment – then don't use his catch phrase hashtags.

You could as reasonably note Rocket Lab had failed launches under a National Government but got there once we had a Labour-led administration.

Or perhaps it's something more personal. The director of astrobiology at Columbia University, Caleb Scharf, complained the GODB represented "another invasion of my personal universe".

We're very grateful for the work they do and in awe of their very big brains, but the fact remains: Scharf and other scientists don't actually own the cosmos, although apparently he thinks he does.

It was celestial clutter, others said. But the last time I looked the universe was still expanding.

It's surprising astrophysicists of all people should find it so hard to see the big picture.

For a start the thing is only going to be up there for nine months, which is not a long time in cosmic terms.

Perhaps an analogy could make that clearer: if all time since the Big Bang were represented by one year, then nine months would be equal to a Bachelor viewer's attention span.

The millennials seem to have the right attitude. One told me she was disappointed the GODB didn't have multi-coloured kaleidoscopic features.

Another observed if Bansky had launched this thing "everyone would be going on about how edgy and disruptive it was".

We need more beautiful things in our lives. Critics should lighten up.