Moon balloon

By Phil Plait | August 21, 2011 7:00 am

Last Tuesday was back-to-school day for TLA*. On that day we got up early for the first time in a long time, prepped her, and with remarkably little fuss got her sent out the door.

… only to have her banging on the door literally ten seconds later. Figuring we had forgotten something, Mrs. BA and I opened the door, whereupon TLA said "Come see this!"

We went outside, and this is what we saw:

[Click to hotairinflatenate.]

I ran back inside to grab my camera, and there ya go. We get lots of hot air balloons around here — the view of the foothills and Rockies must be stunning from up there — but I’ve never had such a perfectly framed shot like this one before.

Sometimes I like to use pictures like this as an excuse to talk about science — adiabatic expansion would fit here, or perspective and distance — but you know what? I think this is fine pretty much as it is.

* The Little Astronomer, who’s not so little anymore.

Decidedly not her real name, either.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: balloon, Moon

Comments (23)

  1. I’d actually think that the obvious science to talk about is how bad humans are at estimating size without strong contextual clues.

    But yes, it is very pretty.

  2. Pete Jackson

    A gibbous moon and a gibbous balloon!

  3. Saudah

    I’d like to be like these people who have time to hot air baloon on a weekday morning.

  4. Bill

    I’m not sure what that white thing in the lower left is, but it looks like they’re trying to land on it.

  5. icewings

    That’s no moon…

  6. If they’re planning to fly that thing all the way to the moon, I hope they packed extra propane for the hot air…. Or Rick Perry.

  7. Ken

    Ah, but is the balloon carrying a Judoon platoon in front of the moon?

  8. Gravee

    You can’t see the rope, but the “moon” in this pic is a pendulum hanging from the balloon basket.

  9. Mike from Atlanta

    “I ran back inside to grab my camera”

    A nice thing to do on the first day of school every year is to take pictures on the front porch. That way you can create a montage showing them on the first day of school every year and show how much they’ve grown. Usually the door, the bricks, or whatever provide a nice visual reference for the sequence.

  10. Grand Lunar

    Simple, yet elegant. Nice find by the (not-so) Little Astronomer.

  11. Chief

    Actually for daytime that moon shot is very bright.

    Is there a cow in the balloon.

  12. phil

    who knows if the moon’s
    a balloon,coming out of a keen city
    in the sky–filled with pretty people?
    (and if you and i should

    get into it,if they
    should take me and take you into their balloon,
    why then
    we’d go up higher with all the pretty people

    than houses and steeples and clouds:
    go sailing
    away and away sailing into a keen
    city which nobody’s ever visited,where

    Spring)and everyone’s
    in love and flowers pick themselves

  13. Elgin

    Title makes me think of this Dr. Who quote: “Judoon platoon upon the moon.”

  14. Noel

    I like how you had “enflatenate” when enflate is a type of enlarging, so you know, it works.

    (laughs monotonously)

  15. Tensor

    ….Who’s not so little anymore.

    Still, Phil, hang on to time she’ll still be there. Both of mine are out of college and have left the nest.

  16. csrster

    It can’t be the moon – it’s daytime. (:-))

  17. CJSF

    How old is TLA now, if you don’t mind my asking, Phil? And nice photo!


  18. Doug

    David Niven wrote an autobiography titled “The Moon’s a Balloon”.

  19. John

    If you look carefully, I think Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo are up there getting ready to start a movie.

  20. John

    This is so obviously a fake picture. The balloon is higher in the sky than the moon is! We’ve never been to the moon with our fancy rocketships so a balloon certainly can’t do it!

    (yes sarcasm)

  21. icemith

    @ 14, Noel…

    Funny how in some words, the meaning can seem to be the opposite to what is intended, when the word is extended, ie, flammable v inflammable. They actually mean the same, and, due to the risk involved, one of them has been consigned to the trash, so that there can be no confusion.

    Enflatenate v enflate (inflate, surely), is another example, except that the pronunciation would suggest the opposite, ie, with the emphasis on the “flat” bit in the former. So it can’t be inflated and flat at the same time.

    English is sometimes so illogical, but what can we expect when for hundreds of years we have been borrowing and using second-hand and foreign words, but the meanings have changed.

    Just observing, but wish I was not in the Word Police.

    @18 Doug…

    You beat me to the David Niven Book, “The Moon’s a Balloon”.

    Now I’m just waiting for “TLA” to come up with an example that could be entitled, “Bring on the Empty Horses”!

    But I appreciate that Balloon/Moon shot, right place/right time. And an observant child who knows the importance of the occasion.

    Serendipity at its Best.


  22. Minos

    That picture really makes a fine desktop background, thanks Phil!

  23. astroricardo

    It’s only a paper moon…


    It’s only a model … Shhh!


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