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Photos by Pat McCracken

Shuttle-Plume Photo

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My First Goodshot

In August of 2000, my family pitched in and gave me a great 50th birthday party - and, a super cool 2.3 megapixel Kodak DC280 digital camera.

I worked at NASA and in February 2001 was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a meeting. We were to breakup in time for us to run over and watch the launch of the US "Destiny" laboratory launch aboard STS-98.

Well, I got there late and at launch time (6:13pm) I took this picture from the security gate to the viewing area with my cool new camera.

On February 7, 2001 There was a full moon and at launch time, the sun had already set below the horizon. In the photo you can see that as the Shuttle gains altitude it enters the Sun's direct sunlight. Because the moon was full, any shadow will be cast toward the moon. The light you see above the sun shadow is the space shuttle traveling downrange as it travels toward low Earth orbit.

The photo, totally unbeknownst to me, captured many atmospheric phenomenon and quickly became a very popular photo. I posted the photo in its original form and have given permission for its publication in many articles and text books. You can still find the photo all over the internet. Search for either "Pat McCracken, NASA", or "Shuttle Plume Photo".

Here are a couple of links which try to explain what is happening in the image.

Is it a surprise I got hooked on photography??

Creative Commons License
Shuttle-Plume Photo by Pat McCracken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://fiddletoons.com/Goodshots/ShuttlePlume.html.