You’d hardly notice it but a secret Air Force mini-shuttle us flying overhead twice a day. What it is doing up there is anyone’s guess.
Actually, it flies overhead many more times than twice a day but you can *see* it twice a day if you know when and where to look. And if you have a camera and a tripod you can photograph the “star trail” it makes as it passes by.
The unmanned mini-shuttle is the X-37B, which launched on April 22. It started off as a NASA project but then the Air Force took it over. It’s about thirty feet in length and is said to be able to land, when so directed, without any human intervention whatsoever.
This first image was made from Montara on May 29th. (ISO 400, 25 seconds at f/2.8 with a 21mm lens, cropped from original). The star trail is hard to see in this small size–click on the image to see an enlarged version.
The second image was made the next night (ISO 400, 5 seconds, f/1.4 with a 50mm lens, again cropped from original)
Lastly, here is a video from YouTube which gives an overview of the spacecraft.
Want to look for the X-37B yourself? Pick a clear night at go to Simple Satellite Tracker and type in your Zip Code. The X-37B will be rather faint and hard to see if you aren’t used to looking for such things–bring a teenager with good eyes along and you’ll have no problem at all picking it out.