During a 2001 launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, NASA photographer Pat McCracken captured this amazing photograph of the shuttle’s smoke plume casting a shadow across the full moon rising in the horizon.
[...] the Sun, Earth, Moon, and rocket were all properly aligned for this photogenic coincidence. First, for the space shuttle’s plume to cast a long shadow, the time of day must be either near sunrise or sunset. Only then will the shadow be its longest and extend all the way to the horizon. Finally, during a Full Moon, the Sun and Moon are on opposite sides of the sky. Just after sunset, for example, the Sun is slightly below the horizon, and, in the other direction, the Moon is slightly above the horizon. Therefore, as Atlantis blasted off, just after sunset, its shadow projected away from the Sun toward the opposite horizon, where the Full Moon just happened to be. [#]
As Space Shuttle Atlantis left the International Space Station to head back to Earth for the final time, one of the astronauts on the ISS captured this beautiful image of the shuttle’s glowing re-entry. Any guesses for what shutter speed this was shot at?
Musician Chris Bray was 13-years-old when he and his father attended the first ever launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle program on April 12th, 1981. His mother snapped a photograph of the two standing ready with binoculars and a Super 8 camera. Last Friday, Bray (now 44) and his father (now nearly 70) were also in attendance at the final launch of the Shuttle program, and decided to recreate the photo they had taken together 30 years earlier.
Space Shuttle Atlantis blasted off for the last time today, the final launch ever for NASA’s Space Shuttle program. 18-year-old Ryan Graff was lucky enough to be flying to Miami as the Shuttle launched, and captured this awesome photograph of Atlantis’ smoke trail using his iPhone.
Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli recently captured some amazing one-of-a-kind photographs of the Space Shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station from about 600 feet away using a Nikon D3x and 24-120mm lens. What’s interesting is the standard practice for returning to Earth: while the memory cards are brought down safely with the astronauts in a descent module, the camera gear is left in the orbital module, which falls into Earth’s atmosphere and burns up!
That’s standard practice for Soyuz re-entries: The astronauts take only what they need and shed the excess baggage to cut down on weight … even if that excess baggage retails for about $8,000, as was the case for the Nikon. [#]
Here’s a good example of when HDR photography is useful: NASA created this image of the Space Shuttle Endeavour lifting off for the final time by combining six separate photographs.
Each image was taken at a different exposure setting, then composited to balance the brightness of the rocket engine output with the regular daylight levels at which the orbiter can be seen. The processing software digitally removes pure black or pure white pixels from one image and replaces them with the most detailed pixel option from the five other images. This technique can help visualize debris falling during a launch or support research involving intense light sources like rocket engines, plasma experiments and hypersonic vehicle engines. [#]
After Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on its final mission, a woman named Stefanie Gordon snapped a photograph of it from her Delta airlines seat using her iPhone, sharing it with friends and family through TwitPic. Though it quickly went viral, and was shared all over the media, Gordon was only paid by five media organizations for licensing rights to the photo. The Red Tape blog over on MSNBC wrote a great post a couple days ago bringing the issue of copyright infringement to the public’s attention:
In a world where social media users, bloggers and even some professional journalists are increasingly comfortable simply copying the work of others and republishing it, can intellectual property rights survive? Can original content survive? And what should the world do when an amateur photographer takes a newsworthy photo and shares it on a social network?
We didn’t share Gordon’s photo here on PetaPixel because we never got her permission to do so (she never responded to our requests). Luckily for us, NASA just published this awesome (non-copyrighted) photograph of the launch that you can freely share and republish.
Who says you need a heavy and expensive lens to capture a beautiful shuttle launch photograph from far away? After the Space Shuttle Endeavour blasted off yesterday on its final mission, one of the photographs that went viral was shot from an airplane using an iPhone. Another was this stunning photo made by Trey Ratcliff using a Nikon 50mm prime lens while thousands of photographers around him were holding massive lenses.
Even though I had my Nikon D3X set up on a tripod with my 28-300 lens, I actually shot this picture with my 50mm prime lens on my Nikon D3S! Everything did go according to plan, and I had run through the routine a few times before the launch. The plan was to fire away on my main body during the first 15 seconds or so. At that point, the D3X starts to have bufferring problems, so I switched to my Chewbacca-bandolier D3S. I pulled it up into a vertical orientation and rapid-fired just as the shuttle tore into the clouds. [#]
You can read more about the shot over on his website here.
Image credit: Photograph by Trey Ratcliff and used with permission
When a NASA Space Shuttle lifts off, there’s always high definition cameras carefully placed around the launch site, documenting the launch in high-definition photographs and slow motion videos. Back in April we featured a slow motion video of the Apollo 11 launch in 1969, and now here’s another neat super slow-mo documentary of more recent launches (i.e. 2005). If you have 45 minutes to spare, this video is sure to amaze and educate you.
By the way… during the launch, the shuttle burns 1,000 gallons of liquid propellants and 20,000 pounds of solid fuel every second.