The Falcon 9 launched into orbit late Sunday (Oct. 7) from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base about 158 miles (254 kilometers) north of Los Angeles to deliver the Earth-observation radar satellite SAOCOM-1A into orbit for Argentina's national space agency. That mission was a success, and SpaceX also landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 at a new site (Landing Zone 4) near its Vandenberg launchpad in a historic first. But it was the spectacular views of the rocket streaking into the night sky, its two stages clearly visible after separation, that wowed spectators across the region.
"I watched the launch from Santa Ynez peak, about 40 miles from the base," said Joaquin Baldwin, a Disney feature animation layout artist and photographer who shared a dazzling view of the launch on Twitter. "It was spectacular, the fog lit up and quickly the horizon turned red. After the second stage deployed, the Falcon 9 drew spirals of light in the sky and a massive blue and magenta cloud formed. It looked as if we were staring into a nebula, with two bright eyes staring back."
Baldwin's image also shows the first stage returning to Earth.
"The descent back to base was fiery and almost blinding, while the payload left behind a trail that looked like a distant comet," Baldwin told Space.com. You can see more of Baldwin's launch photography via his Twitter page and Instagram page.
Baldwin wasn't the only one to capture amazing views of SpaceX's launch. Here's a roundup of the most eye-popping images on Twitter posted shortly after the successful launch. The images are reminiscent of a dazzling SpaceX launch in December of 2017 that created similarly amazing views.
Falcon has landed pic.twitter.com/joqphUs1AO— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 8, 2018
Nope, definitely not aliens.— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) October 8, 2018
What you’re looking at is the first launch and landing of the @SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the West Coast. The rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:21 p.m. and landed safely back on Earth. pic.twitter.com/8AKjGptpps
Science! pic.twitter.com/u4NBG0ZO7A— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) October 8, 2018
Just. Wow. pic.twitter.com/TG6Np3Havx— Keri Bean (@PlanetaryKeri) October 8, 2018
In Mill Valley, CA.... https://t.co/DP9zv2qOFM— Gene J. Mikulka (@genejm29) October 8, 2018
Watching Vandenberg AFB SpaceX launch from Scottsdale AZ... pic.twitter.com/pSGld1TPG4— Patrick (@WD9EWK) October 8, 2018
Beautiful view from Lancaster. pic.twitter.com/RjufiKzPNf— George Whitesides (@gtwhitesides) October 8, 2018
Neat, my balcony had a perfect view of the SpaceX launch in California just now. pic.twitter.com/e9Wy9tRvWM— Marcel S. Pawlowski (@8minutesold) October 8, 2018
#SpaceX’s #Falcon9 rocket launches #SAOCOM1A from Vandenberg Air Force Base this evening. Seen is the rocket’s second stage heading toward orbit. Occurring shortly after sunset, portions of the rocket's flight were beautifully illuminated by the already-set sun. pic.twitter.com/RAyKsE6z0b— John Kraus (@johnkrausphotos) October 8, 2018
Falcon 9 launch from the Crescenta Valley - first stage coming back on the right... pic.twitter.com/u3ZT2pRe7i— Allen Chen (@icancallubetty) October 8, 2018
On its way to space! pic.twitter.com/hYprRDWxCT— Ellen Stofan (@EllenStofan) October 8, 2018
Editor's note: If you capture an amazing photo of video of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch and would like to share it with Space.com for a story or gallery, send images and comments in to: firstname.lastname@example.org.