Ceiling Fans & Space Jellyfish

click to see full-sized photo on FlickrOur son Gregory’s in town for a trade show. He flew in a day early so he could help us take down the dead ceiling fan in our home office and install a new one. Polly had the day off and she and her brother enjoyed their reunion, working together on the fan. Donna and I helped as well (mostly from a supervision standpoint) … it was a big operation, and a successful one. In another month or so it’s going to start getting hot, and we’ll really need that fan. So yay!

Donna and I drive to Las Vegas every year to visit our son and his family. Polly’s only been able to come along once in the past five years, so get-togethers with her brother are a rare treat. This has been a nice reunion, and it’s not over yet … Gregory’s trade show is today and tomorrow, and the four of us will meet downtown for dinner tonight. Which’ll make two dinners out, since we also went out last night to a Mexican seafood place.

A few years back, while Donna’s sister Georgie and brother-in-law Don were visiting us in Tucson, we saw our first “space jellyfish,” a long ghostly trail in the night sky arcing north to south along the western horizon. No one in the car knew what it was at first, but we quickly figured out it must be a rocket going into orbit. When we got home I looked online and sure enough, SpaceX had just launched an International Space Station resupply capsule from Vandenburg. The plume of that rocket in the upper atmosphere, launched from a point 450 miles west-northwest of Tucson, was what we’d seen.

For the next several months I monitored Vandenburg launch schedules, which are posted online. Whenever a night launch was scheduled, I’d grab my gear — tripod, Canon DSLR, telephoto lens — and go forth in the dark to photograph the jellyfish. Every time, as I monitored the launch sequence on my iPhone, they’d have to stop the countdown for one reason or another and reschedule. I never did manage to see another night launch, let alone get a photo, and after a while I quit trying.

So last night, just about the time we paid the check at the Mexican seafood place, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 from Vandenburg, another resupply mission to the ISS (wrong: just learned it put 22 Starlink satellites in orbit). Gregory, driving his rental car west to his hotel, had a perfect view. Donna, Polly, and I, driving east toward home, never saw what was happening behind us. Fortunately, Gregory stopped by the side of the road and took this magnificent iPhone photo:


That, my friends, is a space jellyfish!

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge