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On Florida’s Space Coast, we like to say rockets get out of here in a hurry. This GoPro “nightlapse” timelapse makes the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 with Starlink satellites on April 28, 2021, appear to be REALLY fast. In retrospect, it would’ve been nice if the trees weren’t in the way, but the challenge of launch photography is knowing where the rocket is going to come up, especially if you’re shooting from a new location. Yes, you can sort of figure it out, but it’s still possible to be just a little bit off.

It was a really windy night, so the palm trees were blurred in my photos. The moon was just beyond full, so it showed up nicely in the fisheye photo.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral with Starlink communications satellites on April 28, 2021. Photo by Chris Kridler, ChrisKridler.com

In this picture, I played around with stacking just a few photos. That’s the streak shot here with the nice blue background and really short star trails.

A fisheye lens shot of the SpaceX launch as seen along the Indian River Lagoon.

Here’s the photo I shot with my 10.5mm fisheye lens. This is one long exposure – 257 seconds – featuring the launch on one side and the moon on the other. I cropped it a little to get the strong horizontal shape.


 

In this streak shot, the SpaceX Falcon 9 shot right up out of my frame.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted NASA’s Crew-2 to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center at 5:49 a.m. EDT on April 23, 2021, with a Crew Dragon capsule. We had a chance to see the launch from the NASA causeway, on the Cape Canaveral side.

The predawn launch was perfectly timed for lovely light effects as the capsule and the booster it shed (which subsequently landed on the drone ship) headed to the horizon in parallel. The contrail left a swirl of noctilucent cloud in the early morning sky.

This is the second crew launched to the ISS aboard a Falcon 9. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, will spend six months aboard the space station.

There’s also new hardware aboard the capsule, including science experiments.

GoPro timelapse video (in nightlapse mode) and photographs shot with two Nikon cameras are featured in the video. You can see some of the photographs in the gallery below.

Roll over a photo to see its caption, and click on any of the pictures to start a slide show of larger images.

Rose-breasted grosbeak

Rose-breasted grosbeak. I think this one’s red mark looks a little like a tornado.

 
Northern parula

Northern parula.

 
One thing you can say about this past year is that we’ve learned how to become travelers in our own backyard. Early in our self-imposed lockdown, I decided to get a bird feeder set up.

We have a pretty bird-friendly yard. It’s small but has a lot of cover – or what one might call a miniature Florida jungle – and we don’t use pesticides. So I thought we could create a little bird oasis and get some entertainment to boot.

After months of refinements, adding a second feeder, and endlessly manipulating the setup with arching supports and baffles to keep the rodents from helping themselves, we’ve seen some wonderful little visitors to our backyard.

Male painted bunting coyly shows off his plumage.

 

Winter in Florida is always a good time to see birds, and as they migrate up north in the spring, we catch some beauties.

Just in the last two days, I’ve seen more variety than ever — rose-breasted grosbeaks, painted buntings, even a bird new to me — a northern parula. I had to look it up.

Hummingbirds have also been frequent visitors to the flowers around the feeder, and one of my favorite captures was of the moment when a bee flew into a resting hummingbird’s face and the bird told it to buzz off.

Hummingbird and bee (c)2021 Chris Kridler, ChrisKridler.com

A bee confronts a hummingbird, who tells it to buzz off.

 
Maybe the variety of birds isn’t as vast as what one might see at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, but it’s pretty exciting for the backyard.

P.S. Because some have asked, to keep out squirrels and other rodents, we use a Squirrel Buster bird feeder, with a long, arching support hook and a wide baffle like this one. The small, round feeder requires a different, rounded baffle to keep out clever rodents.

Here’s a gallery of some of the wonderful visitors we’ve had in 2021. Roll over an image below to see its caption, and click on any photo below to start a slide show of larger images.

 

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