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  • Ville Puoskari

Rocket launch at dusk!

My all-sky camera has occasionally captured rocket launches from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. These events are possible to see (weather permitting) few times a year but in practice I seem to capture one every two years or so. This time I got information of a launch from a fellow amateur astronomer beforehand and decided to keep an eye out for the launch. After sitting in a field for over an hour frustration started to set in - but then it happened! I saw a bright luminous streak rising from the eastern horizon rapidly and I ran back to my camera to get a photo. The rocket launch site was 650 kilometers away but it seemed to move really fast which seemed almost surreal to the naked eye.

Soon after lift-off a piece of the boosters dropped off behind the rocket as a tiny dot and the second stage ignited as a brief puff of white nebulousness. Although the payload of this rocket is unknown, it is likely to be military-related so even if the launch itself was beautiful the payload can have a more sinister meaning. I hope whatever was on-board is never used in an act of violence, surveillance related or direct.

After second stage was over the rocket started to fade while moving across the sky. I knew that there was a possibility of a third burn from previous observations of my all-sky camera and I switched to a longer focal-length lens. As soon as I got the lens focused - boom! The rocket stage lit up as a bright fuzzy ball in the northern horizon before vanishing to the skies permanently.


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