Rocket Launch at Wallops Island

April 23, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Mission NG–11 LaunchMission NG–11 LaunchA Northrop Grumman Antares rocket launches from the NASA flight center at Wallops Island carrying the Cygnus spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station.

Recently, a neighbor asked if we would like to join his family on a trip out to the Eastern Shore of Virginia to watch NASA launch a rocket to resupply the International Space Station. Yes, we would! I had never seen a rocket launch before and everyone in the family was excited. It just so happened that the launch was during our kids' spring break and the launch was unusually scheduled for mid-afternoon (as opposed to late at night or very early in the morning). It was the perfect opportunity and it turned out to be a great experience!

Northrop Grumman AntaresNorthrop Grumman AntaresA Northrop Grumman Antares rocket launches from the NASA flight center at Wallops Island carrying the Cygnus spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station.

The launch was part of a series of missions to resupply the International Space Station. In this case, NASA launched a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket with a Cygnus spacecraft that held supplies and materials for science experiments, including mousetronauts

Needless to say, I took a lot of photos. Sadly, we were pretty far from the launch site. Looking at the map, I figure we were about 3½ miles away. I used my Fujifilm X-T2 with the Fujinon XF 100-400mm and a 1.4x teleconverter (840mm full-frame equivalent focal length), which in layman's terms means I zoomed in a lot. My framing was perfect and I had a great view.

Unfortunately, it was a warm day and the sun generated heat waves (heat shimmer) that wrecked any fine detail I might get from my photos. Heat waves bend light, which distorts an image. The effect is more pronounced the further you are from your target. In this case, I was very far from my target. The only way I could have avoided the effects of the heat waves (heat shimmer) would have been to get closer (not an option) or shoot at a different time of day (also not something I could control). Oh well, I had lots of fun and got some great photos of my kids and . . . I got to see a really cool event! We were lucky because launches have been canceled at the last minute for various reasons, including a plane flying into restricted airspace.

JWB3_190417_4007-hdrJWB3_190417_4007-hdrFujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR mounted with a 1.4x teleconverter (840mm equivalent on full frame sensor) pointed at the rocket launch pad at NASA's Wallops Island facility, waiting for the launch of the Northrop Grumman Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft on a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

 


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