"WHAT IS THAT?"

This weekend I was sitting visiting a friend in Gillette, Wyoming. We were sitting in his backyard chatting when something up in the sky caught my eye.

Not a cloud up here. It was pure blue except for one white dot. It was moving, but very slow. Using binoculars it appeared to be disc shape, as you see in the above photo.

The app Flight Aware shows what is flying overhead at any given time. The type of craft, its speed, and course. This balloon was launched from Cody, Wyoming. It has been up there for quite a while. That means that, at times, it looked like a morning or evening star, or even a UFO.

This is the first time I have seen Flight Aware show a balloon and not a plane or helicopter. Look at the altitude and speed. It is above the height of airline traffic by quite a bit. Yet, at the same time, only traveling at 7 knots, or 8 miles an hour.

So was it a weather balloon? No, something far more interesting.

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The balloon was registered to a company called Loon. They are an internet company that is experimenting with ways to bring the internet to rural America Using our phones we found an internet connection coming from the balloon. But we did not have the password to log into it.

Loon is pioneering the commercial application of cutting-edge, stratospheric technologies. Together, these innovations are adding a new layer to the global connectivity ecosystem, making it possible to connect billions of people and things in places no one thought possible. After years of development, these technologies are in production at scale around the world. (Loon Website).

So, why does the balloon look more like a flying saucer? That is because the gasses in the balloon will change the shape of the material it is as it gains altitude.

Below is a photo of what the balloon looks like when it is close to the earth. This photo is from the Loon website.

As the balloon climbs higher the gasses expand inside it and it takes more of a disc shape.  You can see what that looks like in the photo below.

StratoCat via YouTube

Loon in winding down their experiments and moving on to the next phase. You'll be seeing less of those white dots in the sky over Wyoming.

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