Skip to main content

Photographer Captures Rocket Launch as Amazing Arc of Light

RBSP Atlas V Launch Skywatching
The Atlas V rocket launched with twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes sent to explore the Van Allen Belts that surround Earth. Astrophotographer Mike Killian took this photo from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Aug. 24, 2012. (Image credit: Mike Killian/<a href=http://www.mikekillianphotography.com>www.MikeKillianPhotography.com</a>)

This spectacular image was taken in the early morning hours as the Atlas 5 rocket shot off to explore Earth's Van Allen radiation belts.

Astrophotographer Mike Killian took this stunning photo from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Aug. 24, 2012.

The Atlas 5 rocket took off with twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes  (RBSP) sent to explore the Van Allen Belts that surround Earth. The Van Allen Belts are two giant rings of charged particles which have a considerable amount of radiation. The probes, which have now split apart, are exploring the harsh conditions of the belts and gathering data on space weather systems.

Killian's launch image for the radiation probes  is a composite of two photos. The first focused on the dramatic contrast between the launch pad, clouds and sky while the second captured a three-minute exposure of the rocket’s burst into orbit.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com.

Follow SPACE.com for the latest in space scienceand exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Nina Sen

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for Space.com. She began writing and producing content for Space.com in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.