I casually walked out to get the mail this evening, slowly walking up the hill, getting there, putting in my key, removing the few items, locking it again. I turn around to walk back down the hill, toward the west and saw the gorgeous dusk sky. “Look, there’s Venus!” I said to myself. “Wait. That is too big to be Venus (or a space station for that matter).” I was puzzled by what I saw, and kept thinking, “That can’t be Venus.”
I got back to the house as quickly as I could, plunked the mail down on the table and got out my telescope. I pointed it in the general direction of the bright light, lined it up properly, and then took a look in the eyepiece. I was completely blown away. I did not expect to see what I saw. It was a ghostly balloon. I wasn’t sure what it was doing there, but I later looked it up. It even made the front page of the online version of our local newspaper, though my photo is a lot better than theirs, believe it or not.
What I saw is the NASA weather balloon that’s made such a fuss in Arizona lately. It is measuring gamma ray emissions. Well, whatever it’s up to, it made my evening a thrilling one.