This Minotaur 1 rocket was launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia November 19 at about 8:15 pm. The vehicle was carrying a payload of 29 satellites into orbit – a record number of satellites ever carried into orbit by a single rocket. (You can read more about it here.)
This photo was made from Myersville, Maryland (about 200 miles away), and was one more very lucky shot. I didn’t even find out about the launch until after the scheduled lift-off time had already passed, but it was postponed over an hour for technical reasons. I began monitoring the countdown via computer and just had time to get my camera set up before it happened. I intuited the direction to aim my camera after consulting Google maps, and was also very fortunate to have clear skies for the rocket’s ascent. The color of the plume was much redder than I expected, but turned whiter as the rocket gained altitude and speed. The first stage burn-out and the second stage igniting was clearly visible after the rocket cleared the cloud bank.
The vantage point for this shot was South Mountain, a little west of Myersville. The string of lights at the bottom right is Interstate 70 westbound traffic; the glow above the horizon is from the town of Frederick. Technical data – Nikon D7000 with 12-24mm lens at 24mm, f/8, ISO 640, two layered subsequent 30-second exposures with a brief interval between (when the rocket was obscured by clouds). The final image below was slightly cropped. You can click on it to enlarge – enjoy!