These fantastic launch (and general NASA) photos come from the forthcoming book, Last Launch: Discovery, Endeavor, Atlantis by Dan Winters. I don’t know about you, dear viewer, but this just went on my wishlist — holy amazing photos, Batman! See the original post at My Modern Metropolis for more photos and a full writeup. Can’t wait until this comes out!
This photo is fantastic, but you already knew that because now you’ve seen it. The subject says it all!
Why would the shadow of a space shuttle launch plume point toward the Moon? In early 2001 during a launch of Atlantis, 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.
Four months ago I was with a group of #BetaHouse friends at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, watching the final launch of the space program. (As I recall, it was considerably warmer than it is today. Brr.) It’s still hard to believe that it’s over (the launch, the Space Shuttle Program) in general, let alone that it’s been four months! Good times, great memories, and one final light show from Atlantis on her way to orbit. Happy launch-iversary!
I mentioned on Twitter last week that I noticed the other day, all of the space shuttles I drew in high school happened to be either Discovery or Atlantis, the two launches I saw in person. (Strange coinkydink, dontcha think?) @deliciousblur asked me to post them, so here they are (belatedly.) I have a much larger Atlantis in a frame which I may scan in future (if it’s easy to remove and put back, that is. Pen and ink pointillism is sorta my thing, by the by. Hope you like them!
A month and a day ago, I watched space shuttle Atlantis leave Earth for the final time (not as close up as the above photo suggests, but nearby.) It’s hard to believe it’s been a month already, and hard to believe there’s no more space shuttle launches. The next time I see any of the three orbiters, it will be significantly closer up, but in a museum.
I love standing underneath (or near) a Saturn V rocket. It gives me a pang of regret that I never witnessed a launch, but also gives me a thrill. I imagine what it must have been like to see one of those babies take off. The Space Shuttle, I have seen take off. To stand under an orbiter and look up will pang me much more, in a different way…