Yesterday, 11/11/11, Tim Ritzema, Damon Crumley, David Peterson and I
launched a balloon that carried a camera above the majority of the
atmosphere (over 90,000 feet, perhaps over 100,000 feet). We retrieved
the package a couple hours later and retrieved the footage. While things
didn’t go quite the way we wanted – the platform was really unstable –
we learned a ton and got some neat photos.
Here is what we sent up
Here is where we found it on Google Maps.
It took us a bit more than 2 hours to drive to where it landed and
almost an hour to actually find the location. The GPS coordinates were
right on, but it took us a while (in the dark) to find our way to the
right creek. The people who lived there weren’t home when we showed up
in their driveway, though their friendly dogs were. We got out of my
truck and Tim called the phone (which we had pre-flight set to an alarm
tone-like ringtone and at full volume). I heard it and could tell it was
close as I shone my flashlight down by the creek, I saw the parachute.
We found it!
We’ve got a lot of ideas for our next flight and can’t wait to see what happens.
I’m working my way through the Caldwell Objects in widefield and this
is my latest. I was going to do some more, but my filter fogged over.
Tonight is not quite as chilly as the other night, but it’s just as
clear. Unfortunately for deep sky stuff, the Moon is getting brighter.
Of course, that means it makes a nice target for the camera. There’s a
lot of detail if you click to the image and view it at full size. Of
course, the amazing thing to me is that no matter how good the images I
take of the Moon, they don’t do justice to the detail you can see with
your eyes. Just the opposite of deep sky objects, which are so much
clearer, brighter and colorful in long exposure images.
I was able to tease out the image of the comet and here’s the result.
I accidentally recorded this as JPG images instead of RAW, so I had to
use a few more processing tricks to get it to look decent. I may try
again soon, if it stays clear. Next time, I’m planning on making sure
I’m set to RAW images on the camera first.
I spent a bit of time imaging several different things tonight. While
the Moon shot came out great. This was probably the best of the rest of
the shots. This edge-on galaxy, known as NGC891 is also known as
Caldwell 23, which means I’m at least 4 or 5 along toward completing the
I’m finally out imaging for the first time in a month – I’ve either
been too busy working or the weather hasn’t cooperated. It’s a bit
chilly, but very clear out.
Neil Tyson was the featured speaker today at the NASA Tweetup and
among our crowd – he’s a rock star. He was great, as always, and was
kind enough to stay afterward. He mentioned to me that he may be
speaking in Chattanooga sometime soon. It looks like he’ll be at
Chattanooga State on October 25th. I’ll definitely be there!
I’ve been enjoying the Tweetup so far and will have more details
later, but you can find more on my Twitter feed to the right. Also see
I was invited to a Tweetup (through Twitter) at Kennedy Space Center
for the GRAIL launch tomorrow. I’ve got my badge and will be posting
more later. I’m very excited.
A commenter asked about my piggyback imaging setup, so I took a photo
(with my phone) tonight that shows how I hook everything up. If you
click to the flickr page (just click on the image) I have labels on most
of the parts.