Amateur Astronomer Images X37-B Space Plane in Orbit

Article written: 28 May , 2010
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015


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 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:

Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.


6 Responses

  1. Member
    Aqua says

    Agreed! Great job on the tracking… you’ve had some practice!? Here’s hoping you get some shots of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch!

  2. TerryG says

    Great results HelloBozos.

    Cash registers will be ringing at telescope shops everywhere in your honor ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. HelloBozos says

    The more eye’s in the sky the better,not for satellite’s,but for object’s headed this way that could do alot of harm,Satellite’s a bonus..8^)

  4. Member
    Aqua says

    @HelloBozos – Did you get a look at the Space Weather site today? There’s nice shot of the X37-B and a GREAT blue air/daytime image of the ISS. Have you ever done that?

  5. Member
  6. Spoodle58 says

    Kickass images ๐Ÿ™‚

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