“Streaker” Captured In Delaware Seashore State Park Last Night
Never thought I would get this shot. Northrop Grumman’s Antares launched successfully last night.
We grabbed the gear and headed to the beach, we had a plan for a specific shot. The rest of our “Space Nerd” crew headed to the “spots” near Wallops Island. We are as protective of our “spots” as anglers. We had a night shot to get a picture of and we all had different plans. I had no idea what I was doing, so this was a learning experience for me. You only get one shot at this, not like we can call NASA and ask them to do that again, because I missed the shot. I also learned to shoot the moon and bridge better last night, huge thanks to Hunter Outten from Delmarva WX for that lesson.
Cameras were all set up, taking test shots with different timer settings. Counting seconds to see what the finished product might look like. Using the phone timer creates more light pollution, despite a full moon. Taking very cool shots of the Charles W Cullen bridge, the full harvest moon, mars, and the milky way. The milky way galaxy is tough, that is my next challenge. It was a busy night. We missed the meteor shot when it ripped across the sky over the bridge. “Did you get that? .. No I am still processing the last sixty second shot … You know you can turn that off? .. No, but I do now”
Now we wait. Counting down, we are at T-minus five minutes, please don’t scrub, everything is perfect. Clear sky, very little atmosphere haze, perfect!
NASA TV is on a delay, we know that so we have to get ready to hit the button at a minute out just in case. “Get ready it is going to come up in a few seconds” We see a glow to the right of the bridge the horizon looks like a rising sun. “That’s our boy! Move the gear!”
I have to move the camera a bit, really fast. I set it a little too high. I wanted the bridge in my shot, but we are under the gun. A little quick panic and I hit the button.
Hunter is holding his shutter open, he has the setting on “bulb” and didn’t realize it. So he is holding his button trying not to move. The next thirty to forty seconds are what we prepared for, aside from that quick panic to move the frame for the shot. The Benny Hill theme song is playing my head.
Antares rips across the sky. The rocket is about out of frame, which the test shots would show, but I have to guess now, I moved the camera. I punch the remote button, close the shutter, and move to get the last bit of rocket trail. Then Antares goes dark. mission accomplished. We look at our shots. I am excited and disappointed. I missed the bridge at the bottom, but the streak is solid, not broken up. Hunter, from Delmarva WX, gets a great shot of the whole scene, I’m a little jelly.
Before we pack up our gear and head back to the car. I take a few more shots of the bridge to fine tune those settings for more shots later. Never waste an opportunity. Get another shot, take another cast. You never know. You can make night look like day with the right settings. We got some cool shots of the lantern tour in pitch dark. We also didn’t know there was a jeep in the foreground of the bridge shot until we really looked. Even during the test shots we weren’t paying attention, too excited trying to get the right frame. The Antares pad for future reference is right under Jupiter for our position in Delaware Seashore State Park. I need another night launch now.
On the way home I am texting everyone our shots and they are sending theirs. Everyone got unique shots of the Antares. Mike Givens got a cool close up of the the rocket’s red tail, can’t see the rocket it is dark out. Brian Wood got a killer streak from the pad at our other favorite “spot”. Another friend who works for NASA was at the media area with a killer lens, he sent some sweet launch shots. I send my pic to him. Patrick Black “Dude that is a great streaker!”
A headline is born.
Congratulations to NASA, Wallops Flight Facility, the crews, and Northrop Grumman for a successful launch. The perishable food cargo included a plethora of fresh cheeses. Which might explain the twenty three million dollar titanium toilet sent to the International Space Station. Cousin Eddie would be proud. Well done everyone, looking forward to the next launch. Living this close to a NASA launch facility is amazing.
We took some launch video from the beach while the cameras did their thing.