Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I didn't see the Delta IV launch, but saw some lightning instead.
I went out to watch a Delta IV rocket launch from Vandenberg, ending up along Gates Pass road west of Tucson hoping to see the plume from the rocket as it rose out of the SLC-6 launchpad on the California coast. I've seen a number of launches from Kitt Peak or Tucson. Unfortunately for the rocket launch, we had thunderstorms in the area. I set up about 15 minutes before the scheduled launch time as twilight faded. The sky was almost totally covered in clouds, so I figured I'd have no chance to see the rocket launch. Several thunderstorm cells were in the area and I watched warily as the nearest approached from the south over Golden Gate Mountain with bolts flashing frequently. I set up my camera and took some shots of the western sky and then tried to catch some of the lightning that approached. This shot shows the western flank of Golden Gate Mountain with bolts in the sky overhead. I had to retreat to my car and watch the western horizon for the rocket, but to no avail as the rain pounded my car and the lightning lit up the sky and the landscape. Well, at least I got some good lightning shots.... This image was taken with my 24mm lens on my 20D with an exposure of 15 seconds at f/8, ISO 400.