I've been on the mailing list "launch-alert" for quite a while. The
list owner sends emails about pending launches from Vandenberg AFB. In
Sep of 2005, I received an alert about an upcoming Minotaur launch
scheduled for 22 Sep 2005.
We arrived at the viewing site, Lakeview Park, on the east end of Lake Miramar in San
Diego, CA <google map link> with a clear view to the west.
I set up the tripod and the camera. I took a bunch of photos as the sun
set. I let the camera pick some exposures and F-stop settings. Then I
manually did a few adjustments to the settings. I just attempted to
keep the sky a little bright with respect to the ground.
I had a shortwave radio tuned to WWV. I didn't really know how long
from the predicted launch time that the rocket would be visible. I knew
only from previous launches, the approximate track.
I aimed my camera and waited. The scheduled launch time passed.
My wife saw the trail first. I quickly aimed the camera to put the
trail in the lower right hand corner of the frame and took a photo.
Then at about 10 second intervals, I took this series of 4 shots.
It was mostly luck that I got the 2nd stage burn out and 3rd stage ignition all without moving the camera.
After these shots, I had to move the camera and I kept on clicking
away. The plume of the 3rd stage exhaust grew very large. Then the 3rd
stage shut down.
After that, you could not see the rocket any longer. I kept looking,
though, and just as it started to reach the horizon, I saw the 4th
stage ignition. It was just a point of light by then. I didn't get a
photo, as it moved over the horizon too quickly.
The times are from the clock in my camera and are probably
not correct. Useful for elasped time only. Per the Minotaur press
release after the launch, the actual launch was 7:24:29 PM.
First, a series of four shots taken over about a 30 second period.
Camera Model Name Canon PowerShot G2
Shooting Date/Time 9/22/05 7:33:27 PM
Shooting Mode Manual
Tv (Shutter Speed) 0.8
Av (Aperture Value) 2.5
Light Metering Evaluative
ISO Speed 50
Focal Length 16.8mm
Shooting Date/Time 9/22/05 7:33:41 PM
Shooting Date/Time 9/22/05 7:33:54 PM
From the Minotaur Guide, 3rd stage ignition is at approximately 130 seconds into the flight.
Shooting Date/Time 9/22/05 7:34:09 PM
After these sequence of four, I moved the camera and zoomed in to
keep up with the 3rd stage. Shutter and aperture settings unchanged.