Daily Telescope: A flying telescope gets photobombed by some planets

The SOFIA telescope.
Enlarge / The SOFIA telescope.

Chris Johnson

Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light, a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We’ll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we’re going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder.

Good morning. It’s April 1, and today’s photo showcases an airplane—but it’s a special airplane with some celestial treats in the background.

The plane is a shortened version of a Boeing 747 that housed the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, known as SOFIA. This airborne observatory first took flight in May 2010 and operated through September 2022. The 2.5-meter telescope flew at about 45,000 feet and observed all manner of phenomena from a vantage point above much of the Earth’s atmosphere—celestial magnetic fields, star-forming regions, comets, and more.

This photo was taken on the tarmac in New Zealand, where the plane had its base of operations for about two months during the year. It was submitted by Chris Johnson, a systems administrator at the University of California, Los Angeles, who supported the development of one of the telescope’s instruments, FLITECAM.

In the image, we can also see the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter overhead.

Source: Chris Johnson

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