There is a strange phenomenon which is the fact that stars disappear at high altitude. You’ve probably seen those amateur videos on You Tube of somebody sending a toy space shuttle or a tent into the stratosphere attached to a weather balloon. You know, ones like these:
There should be incredible images of stars high up in the atmosphere, free from clouds; but there isn’t one single star visible in any of these videos.
I know what you are thinking. This idiot doesn’t realize that camcorders can’t pick up stars even in the best low-light conditions, let alone contrasting with the bright sky below.
Absolutely. It is very difficult to see stars with a camcorder, but there are ways to tinker with some of them to see stars at night. The Panasonic HDC-TM90K and Samsing SDC-435 are two such examples.
Still, the people sending up their balloons during the day were probably not interested in changing the camera settings just to see stars. Their camera might not be capable or they may not have read its instruction manual on how to do it. Fair enough.
Having said that, there is not one example on You Tube where one single star is visible at all at any time. Not once.
So to capture images of those magnificent stars we will need to find film taken by someone with a really expensive top-end professional video camera (television camera) or ones used for filming movies perhaps. Television cameras use CCD sensors instead of the cheaper CMOS ones that camcorders use. CCDs are more sensitive, but it seems that size really is the most important factor when it comes to low-light sensitivity. The bigger the sensor, the more light they let in.
Even something like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera may be enough, or not.
Let’s up the ante and go higher in technology. What is the best money can buy? And when I mean the best, I mean custom-made cameras such as the 1100 series from Spectral Instruments. I’m sure there are other companies making top spec cameras for specific industrial applications, such as this company which makes cameras with Electron Multiplying CCD sensors which can capture stars on their own as can be seen in this video.
EMCCD sensor capturing a few stars at night
What organization could drop some serious change on such equipment?
How about NASA.
Their multi-billion dollar annual budget should allow them to order something decent from Spectral Instruments; you know, a custom-made camera with a sensor the size of a planet (no pun intended).
OK, I know NASA doesn’t exactly have the best reputation at the moment, all thanks to the great analysis on the interwebs. Whether it is a plethora of bubbles floating up into “space”, or the obvious artist renditions without them being kind enough to tell us!
However, evidence from official sources like NASA can be deemed legit if they can be verified. And I mean verified by us. Can us mere mortals repeat what they did and get the same results?
If the NASA footage is the same or very similar to the amateur stuff then there has been little chance of NASA tomfoolery.
And by amateur, I mean the footage must be:
1. Repeatable. Unlike the so-called amateur footage of 9-11, which was a one-off event in history that we can’t repeat ourselves since the event has past forever.
2. Accessible. Sending a camera up to 30 to 44km is something which anyone can do for under $100. This guy’s launch cost $325. Most people can afford that.
3. Variedly sourced. The amateurs must come from all walks of life and not all be connected to one family (think Sandy Hook hoax) or all work for the big media companies (think 9-11) or be involved with any one organization.
4. Numerous. There must be more than a handful of videos or photographs. Obviously, the more there are, the better.
The weather balloon technology ticks all these boxes, with no. 4 being the weakest (I have found 22 videos so far), but the above criteria could be copied by a determined hoaxer (e.g. NASA employee). So, with these criteria in mind is there any verifiable NASA footage out there?
Yes there is.
I found these two videos:
|Endeavour Launch||NASA On Board SPACE SHUTTLE Launch|
(The white thing in both of the images is one of the shuttle’s booster rockets after being ejected.)
Looking at either of the videos you can tell by the sheer overwhelming brightness of the earth that the camera was set to be very sensitive to light.
But still no stars!
Where are they?
There are only two possible explanations, either:
1. NASA have defrauded congress by claiming $200,000 expenses for a booster rocket camera that was really a $150 flip camcorder attached with Blu-Tack. I doubt this, but plenty of NASA cynics wouldn’t.
2. Even the best specifically purpose-built professional cameras with their huge ultra-sensitive sensors can’t capture stars because of too much light pollution and all that. Do you believe that?
Unfortunately we don’t know what kind of camera NASA have used in these videos, at least I haven’t been able to find out after a quick search.
Either way, we haven’t got stars. Let’s give NASA the benefit of the doubt (millions wouldn’t) and say they haven’t got the technology to capture stars on film from the stratosphere during the day (and we never see any booster rocket camera shots from a night time launch either. Funny that.)
What other sources are there to try and capture those elusive stars?
Maybe an amateur weather balloon enthusiast has used a digital slr instead of a camcorder, one which can pick up stars in a ground level nighttime environment. Even better if they sent up the balloon at night for the best possible light conditions.
There is such a You Tube video. It shows a lot of still shots in quick succession taken just before dawn at around 5:30am. The two cameras used were the Canon PowerShot A540 and the Canon PowerShot A590 IS.
Now, we will see stars, even if it is just one or two, at least they will be much brighter than those taken on the ground as there is a super thin atmosphere at this height.
Can’t wait! I’m so excited.
dslr images at 30km
What the…? No stars at all in any image. What is going on here? OK, don’t panic. Everything’s alright. The same man has a website with high resolution pictures. Surely I’ll see the stars now…
There must still be a logical explanation. Maybe these cameras can’t capture stars even from ground level. Let’s check Flickr groups for both the Canon PowerShot A540 and the Canon PowerShot A590 IS.
Here are four night sky images, including environmental light pollution, from the Canon PowerShot A540:
|starry night 1||starry night 2 – no tripod 3 sec exposure|
|starry night 3||starry night 4|
And from the Canon PowerShot A590 IS:
|starry night 5||starry night 6|
|starry night 7||starry night 8|
Only one or two stars can be seen in five of the above images, but three of them show several stars, albeit nothing like the time lapse images of more expensive dslrs. Images such as these from this video.
I should still be able to see a couple of stars in a few of the high altitude night sky images surely, but nothing, nada, zilch.
Maybe the camera wasn’t set at the right settings to capture stars, even though it would seem the author would have had that intention since he sent the balloon up at night. Stars are best captured by using a tripod and at least 15 seconds shutter speed (for a full sky of them to appear), so maybe atmospheric conditions caused the camera to twirl around allowing no clear images to be shot. I would still expect a few photos to contain some kind of star light with this length of exposure especially during periods of relative calm up there, but obviously not.
Oh well, I will have to admit defeat that I will never be able to see glorious looking stars at high altitude on either photo or video no matter who takes them, NASA or mere mortal.
Wait a minute…
If neither a state of the art video camera, nor a dslr can do it, what about the naked eye? Maybe someone can tell me what an incredible dazzling array of stars they saw high up there in the stratosphere.
So who has been over 30km high in a balloon?
Felix Baumgartner, the world record breaking sky diver of the Red Bull variety of course.
Here’s good ol’ Felix looking like something out of 2001 Space Odyssey.
But has he told us about the majestic heavens?
Yes he has.
Finally, someone has seen stars up there to fire up our imaginations of a stellar sky full of hope and ambition.
So what does he say? Let’s forward the video to 01:32 and listen.
Felix marveling at the starry sky
Come again? What did he say?
You’ve got to be kidding me. There are no clouds, virtually no air pressure up there, hardly any air molecules at all to block the beautiful light of the multitude of stars that should all but encompass him in one majestic Milky-Way throng of delight. He should have a view of the stars like at the Mojave desert times 10.
Ah, but his eyes have been so overwhelmed by the sun’s dazzling light that the light of the stars have been pushed out, despite his dark protective visor on his helmet. Never mind eh.
All the above observable evidence have their excuses, however likely or unlikely, as to why not a single star has ever been shown in any verifiable footage in the stratosphere; but it certainly raises eyebrows.
Even in most of the unverifiable images of space attributed to NASA we never get to see any stars, and the ones that do, we can’t determine if they had been added by Photoshop or not… except, thanks to Sandy Mulder, we can. To make our eyebrows raise even more, like to the back of our heads, is NASA being caught in the act at copy and pasting a starry night in one of their shots of the International Space Station. These are three light “errors” being copied and pasted.
This entire image is a proven fabrication thanks to an inconvenient truth called the thermosphere; but it goes to show that NASA have no qualms faking stars (and entire images) when it suits them.
Update 1: During my 2 weeks on holiday in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, I only once saw a thin slight wisp of a cloud for a short time one morning, otherwise there was never a cloud in the sky during the oven-like temperatures from 44 to 55 °C. On 19th and 20th June 2013 I was flying back from 21:00 through to 3:00 the next morning. There were no clouds at take-off on the 19th and soon after the lights inside the aircraft were dimmed. I continually looked out the window when we were at cruising altitude and I could not make out a single star (with or without cupping my hands for a while)… odd, since the area is famous for organizing star-gazing trips with the Bedouin people in the desert.
If there are any pilots reading this, or if a reader wishes to ask pilots in the cockpit, have they ever seen stars above the clouds at night from their cockpit? After all, the only lights in the place are from the glowing instruments; there should be no glare. If yes, we know stars are further up than flying altitude; if not, then stars must be low altitude phenomena.
So, what are we to make of all this? Are there really stars up there in the heavens? (Or anything else but the Sun, for that matter.) Are stars just an atmospheric phenomena?
Update 2: No. It seems that whatever the stars represent, must exist much higher but become invisible at higher altitudes for reasons unknown to the author.
Why is this?
The problem are four irreconcilable facts which point to stars being very near the center of the Earth (either side vertically) right above the poles.
1. It is 99.99% certain that it is the stars that move in the sky above us and not the Earth.
2. It is also 99.99% certain that we live inside the Earth (Concave Earth Theory).
3. The north star Polaris can be seen by everyone in the northern hemisphere from those living in the arctic to those just above the equator (and slightly below it).
4. The stars are seen to move in an anti-clockwise direction by those living everywhere in the northern hemisphere.
If everyone in the northern hemisphere can see the north star, this star must be above the north pole somewhere whether just above it in the atmosphere, right through to the center of the Earth (or “space”), or anywhere in between. The fact that everyone in the northern hemisphere can see these stars move in an anti-clockwise direction around Polaris must mean that these stars are extremely near the very center of the Earth.
For the stars to be seen to move in an anti-clockwise direction everywhere in the northern hemisphere, the star fields must be at or very near the center of the Earth.
The size of this “star field” will be demonstrated in a future article, but it seems it is extremely small.
Wait, stars are invisible at high altitude? What about the Hubble Telescope? You know that piece of unverifiable evidence of stars being visible from space. The Hubble Telescope is a complete fraud as my post on the thermosphere will demonstrate. Just be prepared for cognitive dissonance.