Atlas V launch - multicoloured 'contrails'


Senior Member.
I think that the contrail is not lit in the early photos. The contrail is the dark squiggly somewhat vertical line still in the shadow of the earth. The sun didn't illuminate the contrail until 20-30 minutes later. The broad glowing cloud is the exhaust gas spreading outside the atmosphere and being lit brilliantly by the sun as the vehicle exited both the atmosphere and earth's shadow.

It is interesting to see the different camera angles. I watched from the lagoon in Cocoa so it arced across my field of vision from left to right before heading down range. The photos looking toward the southeast are interesting because it looks like it goes up and then back down.

We are bathed in a maritime subtropical airmass right now that is quite free of particulates so atmospheric transparency is excellent. This morning's launch was probably the most brilliant that I have seen.
Last edited: