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Brookfield Teacher Captures View 20 Miles Up

WMS teacher and friend build a balloon to take panoramic and 3D photos miles above our heads.

Whisconier Middle School (WMS) science teacher Geoff Bergen and fellow Almost Rocket Science podcaster Rhett Youngberg built a special high altitude balloon and rig with six cameras this summer then sent it up 20 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The six cameras (and one video camera that malfunctioned) took photos every five seconds throughout the flight, which were later put together to produce the panoramic shots seen above and a 3D rendering of the sky from 100,000 feet directly above our heads.

As the rig rose, the atmospheric pressure around it lightened, exerting less pressure on the outside of the balloon. Eventually, when the balloon had expanded to over 28 feet in diameter, the balloon popped, sending the rig back to Earth.

Two hours and 20 minutes after launching in Roscoe, NY, on Jan. 12, the rig set down softly (at about 9 mph) in Berlin, CT. Using GPS and a predictor website to track the trajectory, Bergen and Youngberg were there to pick it up shortly after it landed in someone’s yard.

Bergen said the two plan to build a new rig — cannibalizing parts from the old one that weren’t too damaged — and launch it this spring with added scientific equipment.

“We’ll add sensors that measure the temperature and altitude,” he offered, stating that the prime goal will be to get “data to use in the classroom… let the kids use real data.”

The other goal, according to Bergen, was to “tell people that it’s really pretty easy to do,” and encouraged other to try.

To help with that, Youngberg is putting together a documentary on the process titled “Earth 360.” Read more about the documentary, view the trailer and find out how to build your own high altitude rig at their website.

Colette Sturm January 29, 2013 at 11:20 AM
This is fabulous. Kudos to Geoff Bergen and all he does for the Whisconier students!
Jaimie Cura (Editor) January 29, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Amazing! Keep us posted on the documentary - have you ever thought about blogging on Brookfield Patch to keep us updated on happenings? I'd faithfully read!
Deane Renda January 29, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Great work Geoff! WMS is proud of all that you do to stimulate the minds of our students.
Jerry Friedrich January 29, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Very Impressive...don't give up the hobby !
Jon Reinhardt January 30, 2013 at 12:45 AM
Geoff ... truly awesome!
Ray DiStephan January 30, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Fantastic! Well done Mr. Bergen!
Michelle January 30, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Absolutely awesome, Mr. Bergen! Well done!
Geoff Bergen January 31, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Thanks for the interest, congratulations, etc. This has been a fun project and to think this was only the proof of concept flight. We have lots of ideas for future flights. Stay tuned! Geoff
Bruce Siennick February 04, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Mr. Bergen, I'd like to invite you and Mr. Youngberg to be guests on our cable show, Brookfield Public Advocate. This would be a great show topic and we can put on the screen for viewers some of your shots, and after airing, put up on our youtube channel. Please reply to let me know. Thanks. Bruce Siennick, host/producer email: brookfieldpublicadvocate@yahoo.com
Geoff Bergen April 13, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Just as a follow-up, here is a great video recap of the process. Enjoy! http://youtu.be/-nMTR23JP-U
Jaimie Cura (Editor) April 23, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing! I love the video you shared, Geoff! I like that you included the recovery efforts of when the apparatus got stuck in the tree. So ... what's the next project?

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