Ed's Observed Launches

These pages contain descriptions and pictures of Vandenberg AFB Launches which I have witnessed myself

Minuteman III

2003 September 10, 4:31 AM

I got out of bed at 4AM, and the Livermore valley was socked in.  I checked the current weather at Tracy, and was glad to see fair skies.  So I made the 10 minute trip over the hill, got to an observing spot off of I-580.   I setup my digital camera on my tripod , pointed it south and waited for 4:31 AM.  Right on time, the  missile was visible in the south, shooting up at an angle, apparently heading straight for the full moon.  I took a series of 4 exposures over a minute and a half span.  Unfortunately my digital camera can only take a maximum exposure of 15 seconds.  Then it is busy a few seconds, writing to memory, before the next exposure can be taken.  I took three 15-second exposures, then panned the camera right and got off one more 15-second exposure before the final stage burned out.  I merged the first 3 exposures together, then combined them with the last.  I think next time, I'll use my 35mm SLR on bulb setting so I can get a continuous track.  All in all, I was fairly happy with the observation, except that the full moon washed out the night sky.

1372x540 pixels (336K bytes), 3434x1353 pixels (1.68M bytes), Starry Night Pro Map

Note:  If you look closely at the lower right portion of the large image (to the lower right of the Moon), shining through the thin clouds is a little orange dot  -- that is Mars.

For obtaining Vandenberg AFB Launch Alert notices by e-mail, visit Brian Webb's web-site.

Back to my Pictures Page