Valentines and Rockets, Part 2

February 18, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Let's continue with my Valentines night of rockets, while not that enamoring to most, it is for me. If you're just joining us, you can read PART 1 HERE. Where did we leave off... Ah yes, I stayed up after getting back home from the USSF-124 launch from 5:30 pm earlier that evening. The Nova C launch was scheduled for around 1:00 am, so I went out around midnight, with the intention of capturing star trails leading up to launch time so I could composite them with the final launch image. Of course, I was a bit nervous for the actual launch to take place, it had been cancelled the night before so I was hoping it would go off without trouble tonight. I wouldn't be able to place my camera in the same position again to make my plan with star trails work if I had to come back.

I had the live feed of narrators playing on my phone, talking about the mission, the payload, the rocket, it all adds to the anticipation and helps me to understand this world of rocketography a little better. (Yes, I made that word up). As the final countdown approached, I quickly switched my camera settings from star trails to what I needed for an 8-minute exposure for the launch itself, a little worried about the cloud cover that had moved in, but I was rolling with it. I also knew with a due East trajectory, I would be able to see more of the stage separation and burn back maneuver, which if I were lucky enough and made the right camera setting selections, I might be able to capture the elusive nebula effect on my second camera that I was hand-holding.

It launched right on time, but did disappear a little under the layer of clouds, but reappeared just in time for stage separation! I was ready. I pointed my 600mm lens at the magical effects unfolding in the sky far above me, and I was wonderstruck with the detail I could see from so far away. It was fleeting, disappearing as quickly as it came, but I knew I caught several nebula images, even at this distance. I did a little happy dance knowing exactly what the final image for this launch would be if I could do my post-processing properly.

And now, after finally finding the time to invest in processing the whole evening, star trails to nebula, this is the final result.

I love rockets!

Click the image to see a larger version, and to see more rocket images. I am currently working on a short time lapse video of all the nebula, so stay tuned for that to appear later.

Nova C Lunar LanderNova C Lunar Lander

Below is a time lapse video of 33 images captured of the nebula effect, close crop.

Nebula Time Lapse


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