Parker Solar Probe Launch and Perseids

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Parker Solar Probe Launch and Perseids

At 3:31 am on Sunday August 12, the Parker Solar Probe was launched on a Delta Heavy rocket. Getting up extra early for the second day in a row, as the previous launch attempt was scrubbed, I captured the launch from Ormond by the Sea. This photograph was made using a long exposure of just over five and a half minutes.

Parker Solar Probe Launch

The lighted buildings are in Daytona Beach and the small bright light just to the left of these buildings and to the right of the rocket trail is the Ponce Inlet light house. The two lights below the arc of the rocket were fishing vessels. The one that is a line was moving more perpendicular to my line of sight, and the other that showed up as more of a bright dot was more directly approaching or receding from my viewpoint. One star in this field of view was bright enough to leave a star trail on the image. I think that this star was Vela.

After the launch, I stayed up experimenting with photographing the Perseids meter shower which was peaking this same weekend. One of those meteor images can be seen here.

Perseids Meteor and Orion

At 4:21am a bright fiery object passed overhead. Since I was set up for capturing meteors in that part of the sky, I managed to take eight 2-second long exposures that showed this flaming light. At first I thought that this was the third stage burn for the Parker solar probe, but that actually occurred about 11 minutes earlier, and I later found out way above earth orbit. Since both the second and third stages left earth orbit, and the first stage was unlikely to last that long, it does not seem that it would have been any of the spent rocket stages de-obiting. The only other thing I can think it could be was a very long lasting slow meteor fireball.

Here is a stacked composite image of the eight photographs that I made while this light passed in front of the constellation Orion.

Perseids Fireball and Orion

And here is a video created from a series of those same eight photographs spaced out in time to match when they were taken and the length of the exposures.

Paul Rebmann
Aug. 29, 2018