Dad And Son Send Video Camera To The Stratosphere

Enjoy this six minutes of a remarkable journey

You may have heard of the recent successful amateur attempt to send a camera into space on a weather balloon. Or maybe not. I hadn’t seen the video until yesterday, so I’m passing this on to you, because it’s just plain wonderful to watch. Luke Geissbuhler from Brooklyn and his 7-year-old son Max packed an iPhone, HD camera and some handwarmers into a special insulated case and let the works float up into the sky from Newburgh, New York in August. The story hit the worldwide press this month.

Although you’ll hear their “craft” went to outer space, that’s a bit of  an exaggeration. Outer space “officially” begins at around 100 km or 62 miles in the extremely rarified air where the northern lights dance. Not to dismiss their achievement. During the 70-minute long flight, the cargo ascended 19 miles (over 100,000 feet) into the upper stratosphere and survived 100 mph winds and temperatures of -76 below Fahrenheit.

The iPhone was set up with GPS so they could track its location and retrieve both it and the camera when they landed. Some might find the video a little scary – it’s hard to believe such chill blackness is so close to home. For more information, see the Brooklyn Space Program website.

This map shows the sky early this evening when the waxing gibbous moon meets up with Jupiter below the Square of Pegasus. Maps created with Stellarium

Tonight the moon pulls up alongside the planet Jupiter. They’ll make an eye-grabbing duo from dusk till dawn. Speaking of which, have you ever watched the moon move during the night? I’m not talking about the Earth’s rotation carrying it from east to west. No, the moon itself is moving eastward in its orbit at about 1 km per second or 2300 mph. In a day’s time, the it moves about 13 degrees or a little more than one fist at arm’s length. This divies down to one moon diameter an hour. That’s too slow to avoid Earth’s faster rotation, which causes the moon rise in the east and puts it to bed in the west, but it’s not too slow to notice with the naked eye if the moon happens to be near a bright star or planet.

Overnight tonight, you'll be able to watch the moon move slowly eastward in its orbit around Earth. The left panel depicts early evening; the right 3 a.m.

Tonight you’ll have that opportunity. Take a look at Jupiter early this evening, and if by some chance, you’re up tomorrow before moonset – perhaps looking for Comet Hartley 2 πŸ˜‰ – you’ll see that the moon is more squarely lined up with the Great Square of Pegasus and that its position in relation to Jupiter has shifted.

That’s one thing about astronomy – its actors never stand still.

4 Responses

  1. Janice Beil

    Found this to be very captivating, and liked the commentary as the balloon went up.
    Almost expected something to capture it!!

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