SpaceX put on quite a show yesterday morning when it launched the final Block 4 variant of the Falcon 9. Poised atop the Falcon 9 was a previously flown Dragon spacecraft loaded with supplies and experiments bound for the International Space Station. With liftoff at 5:42 Eastern, the rocket began its journey in darkness before it rose up into the pre-dawn sky and found sunlight at altitude. The result of this setup is a spectacular noctilucent display, with the exhaust vapors of the first and second stages brilliantly lit against the twilight sky. At its extreme altitude, the second stage cloud in particular expands dramatically to fill a large portion of the sky. Folks in the rocket business call this phenomenon a "jellyfish."
Shot for SpaceFlight Insider as always.
We'll start at the ground first--my remotes have been rebuilt and are back in action--where a nearly-full moon and a blanket of fog set the scene:
(Bogus gear entry - lens is actually a Yashica ML 50/1.4)
(Bogus gear entry - lens is actually a Tamron Adaptall-2 80-210mm f3.8-4 103A)
Things start getting interesting at altitude as the rocket enters sunlight, experiencing its own dawn long before anyone on the ground: