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Cocoa, Florida, lightning by Chris Kridler
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It’s been a spectacular few days for rocket launches on Florida’s Space Coast. Friday evening, Nov. 13, 2020, the long-delayed Atlas V finally launched with a spy satellite, and the twilight made for a gorgeous contrail as it headed to orbit. I shot photos from the Cocoa, Florida, waterfront.

Sunday night, Nov. 15, 2020, SpaceX launched its Crew Dragon capsule with astronauts aboard, headed to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center. I was lucky to get a spot on the NASA causeway, on the Cape Canaveral side, and got some interesting photographs of the launch. It was hazy and humid, and that humidity was a factor in my hazy streak shot. I decided to embrace the haze, and as I refined the photo in editing, I brought out the color. There were amazing colors in the contrail as the rocket headed to orbit … extraordinary reds and blues … and with some zooming (and later cropping), I caught some wild images. A bigger lens might have been better, but I was still thrilled to capture these psychedelic moments.

This gallery is a mix of both launches. The twilight shots are from ULA’s Atlas V. The darker shots are SpaceX’s launch.

Another Mars rover is on its way to the red planet after launching this morning from Cape Canaveral aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. One of the highlights of my time covering space for Florida Today was visiting one of the first Mars rovers during its processing at the Cape and going to the Jet Propulsion Lab in California to cover the excitement of Spirit’s landing on Mars. I love these science missions … relatively low cost compared with human missions, and the rewards are manifold. I wish Perseverance well on its journey.

I shot these launch photos from the edge of the Indian River Lagoon in Rockledge, Florida. It was a hazy morning, but Florida always offers fresh ways to look at each launch.

A lightning crawler in Viera, Florida, on June 22, 2020. Photo (c) 2020 by Chris Kridler,

I chased lightning storms tonight as they made their way into Brevard County, Florida. Farther west, the storms had earned severe warnings and even a tornado warning.

I headed to the St. Johns River first, seeing a beautiful lightning-illuminated shelf cloud on the way. The shelf had eased over my position by the time I stopped and got a few photos of the lightning as the wind rushed through the tall grasses and palms. It started to rain before better photo opportunities presented themselves, so I headed east and parked in a few locations in Viera to snap the rest of the photos here.

The culmination of the evening was a gorgeous lightning crawler that filled the sky. And let’s not even talk about the bolts I missed!  (There are always bolts I miss.) All in all, it was fun to nab some good lightning. It’s been way too long.

Click on the thumbnails to see a slide show of the larger versions.