Vandenberg Launch Picture - MMII Jan.18, 2000

From: Jake Rees (
Date: Fri Jan 28 2000 - 08:42:19 PST

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    Hi all,
    I found a picture on the web of very close to what I saw from Burbank 130
    air miles from Vandenberg on Jan.18 when the Minuteman II missile had
    reached high altitude in space.  I'm referring to what I called a fan-shaped
    display and my friend had commented that it looked like an angel.  You can
    even see the patch of blue which remained in the sky for a few minutes after
    the main display was gone.  From my post "MMII VAFB Launch Observed Jan.
    I saw it from near my home across an athletic field and school roof.  It
    launched about 20 min. into the window.  First sighted coming up over a tree
    on the horizon, it appeared as a short elongated orange flame through
    binoculars.  As it climbed various flashes were seen and stages dropping off
    could be seen as "sparks" behind the rocket.  A dim smoke trail could be
    seen behind the missile's exhaust.  After over 1:15 from liftoff, it became
    very bright and white and a fan-shaped display suddenly grew out from the
    exhaust.  My friend said it looked like an angel.  This display remained in
    the sky for about a minute before fading somewhat abruptly.  This most
    interesting part of the display, I think, was looking down the tailpipe of
    the missile exhaust as it was high into space and the fan-shape mostly below
    it, was crystallized fuel propellent catching the sunrays.  After it was all
    gone, a dim light blue patch of color remained in the sky for a few minutes.
    I also recorded it on camcorder; camcorder in right hand, binoculars in left
    hand, and split my time between looking through each and just looking naked
    The direct link to the picture is:
    The picture is from Russ Schnapps' "SoCal Sky Lights!" website:
    There are other pictures on the website "Vandenberg AFB Rocket Launches" by
    Anthony Galván III :
    -- Jake Rees
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