Amateur Astronomer Images X37-B Space Plane in Orbit

by Nancy Atkinson on May 28, 2010

X37-B spaceplane captured in orbit by UT reader Brent 'Bozo.'

Even since amateur astronomers picked up on the orbit of the Air Force’s secret X37-B space plane, others have been trying to capture images of the mini-space shuttle look-alike. So far, images have been just streaks or dots, but Universe Today reader Brent (a.k.a. HelloBozos) was actually able to image the plane in some detail. “This is the first I know of or have seen an actual photo taken of the X37-B Air Force Space Plane in some detail, while in orbit!” Brent said in an email. He tracked the X37-B manually with his telescope’s handcontroller, and he used a CanonT1i prime focus on a 2 inch diagonal. “This image was taken on 5-26-2010 at 9:48 pm EST, Orlando, Florida, USA. It crossed from the southwest to the northeast, crossing next to Mars and headed to the handle of the Big Dipper on a 71 degree pass.”

Below, Brent also captured a flare of the X37-B.

Flare from the X37-B spaceplane, captured by Brent.

Brent says on the colored photo, “you can make out the main wings, a rear canard, and what I dub the “Fly Swatter’ solar panel.”

Close up version of the image of the X37-B by Brent.

Brent said he tracked the X37-B from the information on HeavensAbove.com. Spaceweather.com also has tracking info, plus other images submitted by readers.

Thanks to Brent for sharing his images. Nice — and fast — shooting! And this isn’t the first time Brent was keeping his telescope’s eye out for the X37-B. He also shot the launch in good detail, even from 60 miles away. The volume is cranked on this one:

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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