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California SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch

Posted: 23 February 2024

Cloudy skies returned on Monday, 19 February 2024. Due to a partly cloudy sky on Thursday night, 22 February, I did not expect to be able to watch a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. And since the launch was well after sunset in California, there would be no large illuminated rocket contrail. However, the launch was visible from Oracle, Arizona.

Here are two photos of the launch and a video, all taken with a handheld iPhone 15 Pro Max using the Camera app. The photos were taken in Night Mode, 3 seconds, 1X lens. The first photo shows the 2nd stage engine firing (left of center). The second photo shows the 2nd stage engine continuing to burn and the 1st stage entry burn (red glow near the bottom and just above the distant mountains) as it headed back to a landing on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. Jupiter is at the upper right in the second and third photos. A bright near Full Moon provided illumination of the ground. The 7 seconds video of the 2nd stage was taken using the iPhone 5X telephoto lens.

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