EarthSky Community Photos

Updates on Your Cosmos and World

Submit your photo here. Comment or upvote on photo pages. Search via photographers' names. More improvements coming! To help, please donate.

Mike Lewinski
Tres Piedras, New Mexico, USA
07:13 pm

Equipment Details:

Sony a6300 with Opteka 500mm lens

Post-processing Details:

Crop and de-noise

Image Details:

I spotted a high altitude balloon at sunset and ran to get my longest lens to capture it. This balloon was launched from Fort Sumner in New Mexico by NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility. It carried a telescope payload, the PICTURE-C mission on Sep 28, 2019, for stargazing, and flew all night. There was a live video feed that NASA provided from the balloon and I could see the lights of Española, Santa Fe and New Mexico while the balloon was just south of Las Vegas, New Mexico at around 120,000' altitude.

I also captured some video as it disappeared into the earth's penumbra and posted that to YouTube:

This is the second such launch I've been lucky to witness while living in New Mexico.

"The instrument — dubbed the Planetary Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Recoverable Experiment – Coronagraph, or PICTURE C... "will enable us to learn about the disk of dust, asteroids, planets and other debris orbiting the stars and gain a better understanding of the processes and dynamics that formed our own solar system... But in order for us to do this, we have to fly the instrument to altitudes of about 120,000 feet to get above most of the Earth’s atmosphere. Atmospheric turbulence distorts and blurs our image of the stars.”

"The team’s ultimate goal is to discover Earth-like planets around sun-like stars capable of supporting life."

- Quotes via