The rocket and the Capitol. Also, a moon dog see another example to the upper left of the dome. 32 stacked photos with a 5 second exposure at f/7.1 and ISO-250. (Ian Livingston) At 8:15 p.m. Tuesday night, post 45 minute delay, a Minotaur rocket code-named ORS-3 lifted off from NASA’s space-launch facility on Wallops Island, Va. It carried aboard 29 satellites – including one built by Thomas Jefferson High School students (in Alexandria, Va.) – more than any prior rocket.
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Much of the viewing region across the northeastern United States was bathed under mostly clear skies, with just some thin high cloudiness around here and there. Seasonably cold temperatures and a bit of a breeze helped set the mood.
Minotaur rocket rises behind the US Capitol before racing into space. 61 stacked photos with a 2.5 second exposure at f/6.3 and ISO-400. (Kevin Ambrose)
Related: 29 satellites! And a local high school’s connection
As with our last journey to photograph a launch in September, research beforehand paid off in that we had a few options. We ended up going with our “secondary target” due to tree complications at the first. Seeing the result, it’s hard to tell why we considered it a lesser view initially!
Our photos ended up very similar, as to be expected given we were standing right next to each other. Some slight differences on settings are noted in the captions. Our shots, as with a number below, are “stacked.” This process brings out the light from the trail from many frames. In this case, because the Capitol is much too bright to do a several minute timed exposure.
We’ve also selected a handful of stellar regional highlights from our Flickr pool, and via photos shared with us through social media. It was especially awesome to see the happy responses on Facebook and Twitter.
Waiting to see the launch of the Minotaur rocket! (Cindy Martinez via Facebook)
Minotaur I launch from Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Va. (Jeffrey Stone via Flickr) Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Potomac River make a great foreground during the rocket launch. (Tom Finzel via Flickr) Minotaur rocket heads to space over the U.S. Capitol. as viewed from a roof in D.C. (Corey Clarke via Flickr) Launch as viewed from the top of a building in Silver Spring, Md. ( Phil Vida via Twitter) Orbital Sciences Minotaur 1 launch viewed from Fairfax. (Paulo Ordoveza via Flickr) Rocket over Pasadena, Maryland. (By The Bay Photos via Facebook) Minotaur rocket launch as seen from Catonsville High School in Catonsville, MD. (Geoffrey Baker via Flickr) Interesting features [vapor trail?] as the rocket passes through the high cloud layer. (Andrew Diseker via Facebook) From Cape May, NJ. Pleiades, AKA the Seven Sisters, also seen at the upper right corner. (FrankM301 via Flickr) The view from College Park, Md. – stack of four 30-second exposures (Rob Wanenchak via Facebook)
Video: NASA rocket streaks through eastern sky
Minotaur rocket launch seen from the Capitol (June 30, 2011)
NASA’s LADEE moon launch lights up the night (September 7, 2013)
PHOTOS: The year in space