The Detroit Post
Wednesday, 01 December, 2021

Do Weather Balloons Have Lights

Bob Roberts
• Saturday, 26 December, 2020
• 8 min read

This article is more than 2 years old. The city of Atlanta was temporarily on alert this week when a suspicious package was found near the Capitol building in Georgia's largest city. The simple answer is that complex mathematical equations are solved to predict how the fluid above us (the atmosphere) changes in time.



In fact, you may have heard debates about the American vs the European weather models. Weather balloons are launched from about 900 locations around the world two times daily to collect information on temperature, humidity, and winds at various levels in the atmosphere.

Such data is used to help initiate the computer models with current condition of the atmosphere. Derived information from the weather balloons can also be used to diagnose how unstable the atmosphere is and whether there are significant changes in the wind (shear).

A transmitter on the radiosonde sends the data back to tracking equipment on the ground every one to two seconds. This week over northern Georgia, winds were relatively light in the upper level of the atmosphere so the balloon did not travel very far.

The balloons, which start out measuring about 6 ft. wide before release, expand as they rise to about 20 ft. in diameter! The radiosonde will typically have a bag and instructions attached if you happen to find one.

J. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate, was the 2013 President of American Meteorological Society (AMS) and is Director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program. Dr. Shepherd is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor and hosts The Weather Channel’s Weather Geeks Podcast, which can be found at all podcast outlets.


Prior to UGA, Dr. Shepherd spent 12 years as a Research Meteorologist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center and was Deputy Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. Shepherd is frequently sought as an expert on weather and climate by major media outlets, the White House, and Congress.

This includes 92 released by the National Weather Service in the US and its territories. Weather balloons, which are made of latex or synthetic rubber (neoprene), are filled with either hydrogen or helium.

The balloons, which start out measuring about 6 ft. wide before release, expand as they rise to about 20 ft. in diameter! An instrument called a radiosonde is attached to the balloon to measure pressure, temperature and relative humidity as it ascends up into the atmosphere.

These instruments will often endure temperatures as cold as -139 °F (-95 °C), relative humidifies from 0% to 100%, air pressures only a few thousandths of what is found on the Earth's surface, ice, rain, thunderstorms, and wind speeds of almost 200 mph! A transmitter on the radiosonde sends the data back to tracking equipment on the ground every one to two seconds.

Others have complex instrument packages on them, and drift high in the atmosphere performing experiments. Usually they are clearly identifiable by their small round shape, but if seen closer to the ground they may be triangular or conical.

balloon weather explode bursting

To identify a balloon it is necessary to find out whether one was launched at a center downwind of the sighting location, and of course to have full records of the wind velocity and direction at various heights. The center that launched the balloon can usually help confirm whether one was likely to be visible over a certain position at a certain time; a radiosonde being capable of travelling up to 125 miles (200 km) from its launch-site.

Small disc-shaped helium balloons, up to one foot (30 cm) in diameter and colored silver on one half and dark on the other have instigated a significant quantity of “UAP” reports since the early 1980s. These tend to be seen at fairly low elevation drifting with the prevailing ground level wind.

If perceived as a largish object some distance from the observer they will be reported as moving relatively fast. As these are often sold at fêtes it may be useful for Investigators to check whether such an event occurred downwind of the observer.

I did google around before posting but this particular piece of information seems surprisingly difficult to establish without a doubt. I don't think weather balloons emit light. They are usually too high for planes to crash in to them so I doubt there would be any real need. Although some high altitude weather balloons may reflect sunlight just after it gets dark because they are still exposed to the light... Posted on Jun, 7 2008 @ 11:34 PM.

Based on photos and the description of the processes involved I didn't think so either. Artificial satellites... although they don't move erratically... maybe UAVs I've heard that they are very difficult to hear because they are so small and it could be possible that there movements seem erratic if they are on a circular coarse...

balloon weather camera

But don't hang so high in the sky (depending on your POV of course). You did notice also that the first guy replying said that if you saw something just after sundown an object high up could still be illuminated by the sun while you would have twilight / darkness on the ground... because of Earth's curvature.

The thing I am talking about would definitely not be reflected sunshine because it was visible in the middle of the night. So, based on your comments, it would not have been a weather balloon (because of the light), or a floating “lantern” (because of the height, and the light would have been flickering), or a satellite (because of the movement).

Are there any aircraft with hovering abilities, but totally soundless? As for using balloons, yes the National Weather Service still launches them across the country, every day.

They launch balloons that go 95000 to 110000 feet then come back down, all the time sending telemetry and GPS location reports for retrieval. If it's emitting light in the day, it's a weather balloon reflecting the sun, if it's emitting light in the night, it's swamp gas.

If it's emitting light in the day, it's a weather balloon reflecting the sun, If it's emitting light in the night, it's swamp gas.

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Shortly after sunset (or before sunrise) the angles can be just right for the Sun’s rays to illuminate objects in your night sky, including airplanes, birds, satellites, and balloons. Weather balloons don’t have any flashing lights, but they are up to 20 feet in diameter and highly reflective.

Chris Scour, who has on observatory near Payson, AZ, got this image (inset) using a 400 mm telephoto lens on his Canon 1D. Not surprisingly, these things often trigger UFO reports to police, airports, and military bases.

They're called Loon balloons, and they're headed to Africa, believe it or not, to provide balloon-powered Internet access to unnerved and underserved users in Kenya and beyond, according to a spokesperson for Google. While it may be the first time you've seen them, Google said that on any given day, Loon has dozens of balloons flying around the world as part of ongoing operations.

Loon balloons travel on the edge of space, acting as floating cell towers, to deliver connectivity to people in unnerved and underserved areas around the world. Loon’s balloons navigate wind currents 20 kilometers above the earth and can be arranged in small clusters to provide periods of prolonged connectivity down below.

The balloons are designed to last for hundreds of days in the stratosphere and when their time is up, they're navigated to a sparsely populated area where they can land safely, according to the company. Mysterious objects were spotted over Denver Monday day but it turns out their Loon balloons from Google.

launch weather balloons upward bree bound students matheny marie ann giorgio sarro balloon connor prepare left right

Balloons meant to stay at a constant altitude for long periods of time are known as transponder. Weather balloons that do not carry an instrument pack are used to determine upper-level winds and the height of cloud layers.

Transponder, weather balloons with instrumentation meant to stay at a constant altitude for long periods of time to help diagnose radioactive debris from atomic fallout, were experimented with in 1958. The balloon itself produces the lift, and is usually made of a highly flexible latex material, though Chloroquine may also be used.

The unit that performs the actual measurements and radio transmissions hangs at the lower end of the string, and is called a radiosonde. Weather balloons may reach altitudes of 40 km (25 mi) or more, limited by diminishing pressures causing the balloon to expand to such a degree (typically by a 100:1 factor) that it disintegrates.

A hydrogen filled balloon at Cambridge Bay Upper Air station, Nunavut, Canada Weather balloons are launched around the world for observations used to diagnose current conditions as well as by human forecasters and computer models for weather forecasting. Some facilities will also do occasional supplementary “special” releases when meteorologists determine there is a need for additional data between the 12-hour routine launches in which time much can change in the atmosphere.

Specialized uses also exist, such as for aviation interests, pollution monitoring, photography or videography and research. Field research programs often use mobile launchers from land vehicles as well as ships and aircraft (usually dropsondes in this case).

myanmar burma visit weather things

The weather balloon was also used to create the fictional entity 'Rover' during production of the 1960s TV series The Prisoner in Permeation, Gwyneth, North Wales, UK in September 1966.

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