Southern Oregon astronomers return from rare NASA flight

, Posted: Tue, May 6 2014 at 1:07 PM, Updated: Tue, May 6 2014 at 4:07 PM

Medford, Ore. -- North Medford astronomy teacher Robert Black and his friend and fellow amateur astronomer Dave Bloomsness with Southern Oregon Skywatchers where one of only a dozen teams selected to fly along with NASA scientist aboard SOFIA, the largest flying observatory in the world.

Last week the took two night flights, monitoring deep space.

"We looked at objects which are mostly deep space most of the one we looked at where galaxies, millions of light years away." Said Robert Black who joked with Bloomsness about the late nights the team encountered.

SOFIA or the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy is a highly modified Boeing 747sp and equipped with a special 2.5m telescope lens.

"The telescopes riding on a spherical oil-filled bearing,so when the plan hit turbulence it would look like the lens would dance but it was actually us moving around the telescope. The telescope was actually still. Dave Bloomsness said of the telescope on board.

It will likely take more than a year for NASA to debrief with some information coming out within the next three months. Meanwhile, Black says he's already held a debriefing with his students at North. Showing a slide show presentation. The team now back in Southern Oregon plan to hold talks about their rare experience aboard the one of a kind jet.

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