Looking down on the sky

Here is a neat series of pics taken by astronauts on the Space Shuttle. Cloudgazing is even better from above! :cool:

Incidentally, what’s that dot above the moon in the last pic? It looks like a plane (I can see what looks like a contrail) but it would have to be mighty high up wouldn’t it?

Excellent pictures, thanks for sharing.

I vote for a flying saucer…

Durn space aliens are at it again…
Don’t really how to use a star chart (never done it); maybe the dot is a planet? Amateur astronomers would know.
Cool pix. Thank you.

I think it’s a blemish in the glass through which the photo was taken - there are a couple of other odd-looking blips and quirks.

Then again, this photo is taken at an angle that grazes the upper cloud layer, doesn’t it - so it could be a plane - it’s only ‘up’ in the sense that it’s in the upper part of the image as cropped by the camera.

If it is a plane, I’m surprised how small and high it looks. The pic is obviously taken with a telephoto lens, and/or greatly cropped, in order for the moon to appear that big. The plane must be a long way away to look that small even with that amount of magnification, in which case I would expect it to look relatively lower due to the curvature of the earth.

But then it’s hard to work out perspective from such a small crop of the scene. On second thoughts, the moon is clearly only just above the horizon, in which case the plane wouldn’t have to be all that high to appear where it does.

I think it must be a plane - at first I only noticed the trail reaching back as far as the moon, but if you look closely it extends in a straight line right off the right-hand edge of the photo, and looks very contrail-like.

My favorite is the picture described as "A cloud wake appears on the downwind side of Isla Socorro, Mexico ". Remarkable how an island so small can have such a big impact on the local environment.

Now I have changed my mind about the plane theory.

Someone on another forum has created a negative version of the pic which clearly shows at least two other objects with trails, all at exactly the same angle.

Any ideas what these might be?

You and me both. One of those strange occurrences where nature creates something that at first seems to defy the laws of probability, something that would seem to require prior planning or design.

Well, if anyone cares, I figured it out. They’re just image artifacts, charge leakage on the CCD of the digital camera.

The original photo can be found here. (Interestingly, only the first “original” has the objects. The second one, labelled “Updated image for database” has had them removed. A good ol’ NASA cover-up? :eek: :wink: )

The pic in the article I originally posted had clearly been rotated for artistic reasons, making it look like the trails run diagonally.

In fact, on the original, all the trails are perfectly vertical (or horizontal, depending which way you orient the photo). I’ve marked some here.

The chances of several objects all flying and leaving trails exactly parallel to the edges of the camera sensor are pretty much zero, so they must be artifacts. The bright dots can’t be stars (or at least, can’t all be stars) as some of them are in front of the moon. So I assume they are “hot” pixels that are leaking charge along the rows of the CCD.

A boring conclusion, but satisfying to get to the bottom of it. :slight_smile:

Me too. I had never conceived of an island wake, but it makes sense.