As observers around the planet were capturing images of Friday’s penumbral eclipse, one photographer saw something unusual: a round object crossing in front of the moon. Luis G. Verdiales from Loiza, Puerto Rico said:
I was using a 125mm telescope to capture the penumbral lunar eclipse when the black disk appeared. It was moving too slowly to be a satellite, so slowly that I was able to capture it with my camera four times. It got my attention because it was round!
Verdiales contacted the Caribbean Island’s largest astronomy organization – Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe – to find out what it was. This group then found the answer:
After analysing magnified images, we suspected it might be a stratosphere balloon from Google Loon, a project that is testing internet coverage from the stratosphere. We verified FlightRadar24.com and found a balloon at 64,400 ft identified as HBAL176.
Further analysis showed the balloon was right between the observer and the moon.
Bottom line: The round object crossing in front of the moon during the February 10, 2017 lunar eclipse turned out to be a stratospheric balloon from Google Loon.