SpaceX lit up the sky with the launch of the Inspiration4 mission Wednesday evening (9/15/21): the first all civilian mission to orbit. We had a spectacular view of the launch from our front yard in Winter Springs, Florida (about 45 miles from the launch pad)!
We have some tall trees to the east that block our view for the first minute or so, but we soon saw the rocket exhaust through and then above the branches. These first two photos are before the 1st stage separated:
If you click on the one above, the larger version on Flickr shows the space craft at the top. It’s a bit soft, but I think it was going through some haze / atmospheric distortion at the time. I’d set my focus on the moon before launch and I think it was good, since details in the later photos are clear.
These last two photos are after 1st stage separation. The Dragon crew capsule is on the left (still on the Falcon 2nd stage). The 1st stage is on the right, with puffs of vapor from attitude control thrusters around it.
Lynn and I have lived in Central Florida for a while and we’ve watched many launches. Neither of us remember seeing one like this. Watching the thrusters fire several times and seeing the exhaust expand was really interesting. I think there was just enough remaining sunlight about 1/2 hour after sunset to light up the exhaust so we could see it.
I like this last photo best. The shape of the thruster vapor adds to the image and there are a few stars visible in the background that add context too. (You’ll probably need to look at the larger version on Flickr to see the stars.)
Night launches are spectacular and it’s a privilege to live close enough to the Cape to see them. This one was especially photogenic. On Saturday evening as I finished writing this, the Inspiration4 capsule splashed down successfully off the coast near the Cape Kennedy Space Center.
If you want to try making photos like this, you’ll need a long lens (or a closer spot!). My lens is stabilized, which helps. I shoot in manual mode (focus and exposure). Set your focus to infinity beforehand. My exposures were at ISO 6400, f/9 at 1/80 sec. Try something similar, check your results, and adjust if needed.
You can see all my launch blog posts at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/rocket-launch/. And you can view some of my other launch and space related photos in this album on Flickr.
Header image: One more view: SpaceX Inpiration4 Civilian Crew Launch (4).
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!
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