Thursday, May 26, 2011

Clouds shroud view of Endeavour launch -- yet again

I set my iPhone on the grass and let it record the launch.

This is my only decent shot of Endeavour before it hit the clouds.

These altocumulus clouds were so low that the people at the Launch Complex 39 press site only had a few moments to watch Endeavour. The most interesting part was how the sun shining against the contrail cast a shadow onto the top of the cloud deck.

This panorama shows how the arcing contrail was mirrored onto the top of the mackerel sky.

Even though I was close -- 3 miles from the launch pad -- shuttle Endeavour lifted off and disappeared above a thick cloud deck.

For the previous shuttle launch, I was 40 miles south when I saw a few seconds of fire from Discovery's rocket boosters, then nothing. People watching at Kennedy Space Center, however, saw the whole eight-minute show.

This time, the people 40 miles to the south saw the whole thing while I -- stationed at the closest possible viewing location -- once again received only a few seconds of joy.

But I should be comforted by the knowledge that most people have never and will never get the opportunity to get as close to the shuttle that I did during the NASA "tweetup."

I took several shots before the launch, including this one of a nearly full moon setting behind the CBS News building at the press site.

These were fellow participants in the NASA tweetup who had attended the scrubbed launch attempt in late April. That's when the astronauts were headed to the launch pad and did a U-turn in their Astrovan after officials declared an electrical problem on Endeavour.

Astronauts waved to the tweeps.

Venus and Jupiter rose on the eastern horizon just before the sun started to come up.

The launch pad was illuminated through dawn, with some thick clouds far offshore.

With this photo, I tried to show the brilliance of Endeavour's launch pad and the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, which are reflected on the water.

This body of water, of course, is the known as the Turn Basin.

The countdown went well, and Endeavour lifted off.

One of the tweeps used an iPad to take pictures of the liftoff, which gave me a chuckle.

With clouds obstructing our view of Endeavour, I just took photos of the clouds that Endeavour made.

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