No, This Image Was Not Taken from the Space Station, But it Sure Looks Like It

The Moon sets above the Continental Divide in Colorado from 86,000 feet. Taken June 27, 2013 on a meteorological balloon launched from Boulder, Colorado. Credit and copyright: Patrick Cullis.

I love those images taken from the International Space Station that show the Moon rising or setting above Earth’s limb, and when I first saw this image posted on Universe Today’s Flickr Group page, I thought someone had randomly posted one of those images taken by an astronaut on the ISS. But then I saw it was taken by Patrick Cullis, one of our “regulars” in our featured astrophotography posts.

This very beautiful, crisp and clear image was taken from a meteorological balloon at 86,000 feet (26,200 meters) above Earth, and it was no fluke that Patrick captured the Moon setting above Earth — it was planned.

“Once I knew the weather was going to work out for a launch I really planned out what time it needed to happen for the Moon to show up in the frame,” Patrick said via Flickr. “Definitely got lucky since the camera is just swinging around randomly under the balloon.”

He calls this image “Divided Moon,” as it shows the Continental Divide in Colorado. “I-70 can be seen snaking up from the bottom center towards Georgetown (valley stretching from left to right,) Loveland Pass, and the Eisenhower Tunnel,” Patrick explained. If you click on the image above (or go here to see it on Flickr) you can see other landmarks labeled.

You can see more great shots from Patrick’s balloon and read more about it on his website.

‘Star Trek’ Spaceship Model Soars Into Stratosphere

Dropping out of warp speed could have deadly results. (Image: Paramount Pictures/CBS Studios)

It was billed as the U.S. S. Enterprise’s first “real” flight in space, but the spaceship didn’t get quite that far.

A group of Star Trek fans launched a model of the famed fictional vessel to an altitude of 95,568 feet (29,129 meters) above Canada, or about 18.1 miles (29.1 kilometers), they told media.

The Karman line — a commonly accepted threshold for the edge of space — is at about 62 miles, or 100 kilometers, above sea level.

Still, the high-flying feat made the Canadian group quite happy, even though the ship made a suicidal crash landing at the end of its flight.

“We lost our engines,” said Steve Schnier, a member of the group that set Enterprise aloft with a weather balloon from Stayner, Ontario, in an interview with Canada AM.

“It wasn’t a smooth ride,” Schnier added concerning the ship’s final minutes. “It was moving, at one point, at 117 kilometres [72.7 miles] an hour.”

Enterprise smashed into the water near a Georgian Bay island in an area roughly 2.5 hours’ drive north of Canada’s largest city of Toronto. Searchers found it using a GPS signal.

The launch at the end of April came just weeks before Star Trek: Into Darkness, the next installment of the nearly 50-year-old franchise, zoomed into theaters in Canada and the United States this week. (Read our full review here.)

Weather balloon flights are used in science to collect information about the upper atmosphere. Other amateur groups have had fun using the idea, flying tokens ranging from teddy bears to Lego figurines.