Big Balloon Over AZ

Head up for those of you in Arizona. If you were outside until ~7 pm this evening you might have noticed a bright yellow/red star in the sky. For those of you with good eyesight it might even have looked like it was bigger than a star.

It is in fact a large balloon which was launched from eastern New Mexico earlier today. The strong winds in the upper atmosphere have blown the balloon to the west and it is currently located just south of Payson, AZ.

From Tucson the balloon is low on the horizon (about 10 degrees up) just to the west (or left) of due north. From Flagstaff it is 13 degs up and nearly due south. From the Phoenix metro area it is 23 degrees up and in the northeast sky. The balloon is currently ~113,000 feet in altitude and is still illuminated by the sun for an hour or so after sunset on the ground.

The balloon is carrying a number of university student experiments. More info and live video on the balloon can be found here. Also a map of the balloon current position can be found here. The balloon will probably still be airborne tomorrow evening though I’m not sure where it will be located. The balloon has landed after a day of data collecting.

I was planning to take a picture of the balloon through my scope but it faded out of view too quickly. Oh well…

About Carl Hergenrother
I am a professional astronomer specializing in the study of comets, asteroids and meteors. This blog will focus on my professional and amateur work in this field

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