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Cocoa, Florida, lightning by Chris Kridler
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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.

SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral on June 13, 2020. (c) 2020 by Chris Kridler

As much as I love sleep, I always make an effort to get out and shoot pre-dawn rocket launches. If you’re lucky, you’ll get amazing light effects. I saw those this morning, but from my vantage point on the edge of the Indian River Lagoon, the show was partially obscured by clouds. Still, it was pretty.

Light effects accompany the vertical streaks (left center) showing the booster heading for the drone ship and the rocket continuing to space.

This was a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Starlink and SkySat satellites. I shot the streak shot with my Nikon D500, along with the shot showing the booster heading for the drone ship and the rocket continuing its journey. The video is an edited GoPro “nightlapse” that shows the light “jellyfish” blossoming behind the clouds.