twilight rocket launch

Falcon Heavy Booster Separation and Boost Back
Core booster, lower right corner, continues into orbit while the side boosters, the two little lights with plumes nearly above the core, begin their return and landing.

Last Monday, 16 January, Space X launched a Falcon Heavy from Canaveral with two payloads for the United States Space Force. These payloads were eventually delivered to geostationary orbits. I was out in my front yard watching the launch. I did see, and capture, the initial fiery launch. And I was about to head back in again because I thought I was too far away to see much of anything else. But I stuck around anyway out of curiosity more than anything else, and as the Heavy continued to ascend I saw the twilight plume as the rocket rose above the Earth’s shadow. That’s when I put the camera back up to my eye and began to track it in the viewfinder. I had enough presence of mind to start zooming in and out and managed to capture a few more images, such as the one leading this post where the side boosters had separated from the core and had begun their trip back down to the Space X landing zones.

I’ve seen the official images taken by many at the launch site, and of course their work is better than mine. But there is considerable satisfaction on my part at having captured this particular moment in time, and hand-held. Especially given that I’m almost 100 miles away from the Canaveral launch site.

I used my Lumix G9 with the Olympus Zuiko 40-150mm PRO attached. I would have used my E-M1.2 body except the batteries I had were pretty much drained at having just sat in my bag for too long. I’ve since charged them both back up, and I’m making a strong effort to use the E-M1.2 a lot more than I have up to this time. When I looked at the EXIF data on the image I discovered I’d only had the zoom out to 100mm, which means I could have used my 12-100mm PRO as well. But the 40-150mm is a stop faster, and I’m glad I had that extra stop as I had the zoom opened to f/2.8, its maximum aperture. And it appears that the G9 and 40-150mm PRO worked together just fine. But I still prefer to use that zoom with the E-M1.2.

And sometimes, when the opportunity presents itself, I photograph more than cats and flowers.