The astronaut Gordon Cooper had 20-12 vision, which means that he could see almost twice as well as a normally-sighted person. In fact, he claimed to espy railroad tracks in northern India and smoking chimneys in the Himalayas when orbiting the earth 100 miles above its surface. While some psychologists argue that he was merely making accurate guesses based on vague clues, science writer Joan Steen Wilentz points out several factors that lend him credibility. Because the atmosphere was very clear, lighting was ideal, and he was breathing pure oxygen in his capsule (which enhances vision), he may have actually seen the objects he claimed to — from 100 miles away.
Espy (pronounced “ih-SPIE”)
To catch sight of (something distant, partially hidden, or obscure); glimpse.
From Old French espier, from colloquial Latin spiare, “to spy”.
detect, glimpse, descry