The March of the Shadows, or, Night, Day and Then Night Again (working title)
I was extremely fortunate to have a very cool vantage point for the #SpaceX #CRS15 #Falcon9 launch early Friday (June 29) morning: 526 feet in the air on the roof of NASA's iconic Vehicle Assembly Building. During the day, the view is just incredible, but at night (or early morning), it is dark on the roof. Floodlights light the rocket on the pad (SLC-40, 4.75 miles away), but everything else is dark. Save for some aviation lights mounted to the building, flashlights we carry with us, and, in this case, a nearly Full Moon behind us, a small group (Craig Bailey captured a great shot of a few of us shooting the spectacle; it's in the Florida Today gallery) waited in the dark to be amazed and delighted.
At 5:42 am the rocket ignited, bathing the Space Coast in light. Although I am aware of how bright this light is, and I know how it (briefly) affects things (see: Chris Gebhardt and the 15-foot alligator), seeing it from above is fantastic.
At the time of launch, a thin layer of haze had begun to settle over the area, and (in addition to being an irritant to everyone shooting at ground-level) it served nicely as a palette onto which the bright light of ignition cast sudden and long shadows. As the rocket climbed toward space, the shadows moved, growing shorter. It was a hypnotizing dance that caught my eye shortly after the rocket cleared the tower (and my initial frame), as I was removing the camera from the tripod to get ready for the epic downrange plume.
Although the plume lit by the rising Sun was undoubtedly the signature feature of this launch, watching the light move across and interact with the land below will, for me at least, be a very memorable thing.
This tight crop of my streak shot doesn't do the scene justice, but you can make out the haze and some faint (and sadly, not moving) shadows from trees and such.
Too Long; Didn't Read: Rockets are bright.
(Pic: me / We Report Space) — at Vehicle Assembly Building.