Adventures in astrophotography: LADEE

I admit it…I’m a noob when it comes to astrophotography. I got into it last winter when braving cold weather to do some long exposure work with friends in the pine barrens. We braved cold weather to do crazy stuff, light paint self portraits, worm holes made of fire, and this summer I got my first shots of the Milky Way and I got hooked! I wasn’t even planning on going out to shoot the L.A.D.E.E. launch since I was out late the night before doing astrophotography with a few other very talented photographers (Jay from Cass Imaging and Jack from Jack Fusco Photography) from the area. I figured, why not, right? I knew that I wanted to go somewhere local and figured Great Bay Blvd. would be a great place to see the Atlantic and hopefully the path the rocket would take into the upper atmosphere.


On my way out to the end of GBB, I played around with getting some other star shots as I waited to meet up with my buddy, Joe.

To get a “front row” seat, my buddy Joe and I, ventured to the end of the road and setup on the small beach. After arriving a little early we were soon joined by many more spectators to watch the show. A show it was indeed. I’ve never seen a rocket launch before and I admit I know very little of NASA’s L.A.D.E.E. Mission, but I have to say it was an awesome experience! One thing that made the experience even more interesting was the awesome weather! It was so calm we heard fish jumping in the water right next to us and the sky was so clear; not a cloud in the sky. There was also a resident red fox that was running all around us almost the whole time we were there. It’s like he was waiting for us to throw him/her some food. It was kinda creepy since it was dark and at times we didn’t know whether it was right behind us or two feet in front of us…haha.

I learned that Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) “is a robotic mission that will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust. A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns, and help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well.”

One of the coolest parts of all of this is the fact that I was communicating with Jon Carr, of Severe NJ Weather about going out to the launch and with my new camera, the Canon 6D, I was able to wirelessly transfer images shortly after I took them on my camera to my phone. This is a killer feature of this camera!! Around 10-15 minutes after the rocket took off I reviewed my shots on my phone and sent them to Jon to share on his page.

Thank you to everyone for your thanks and praise for my shot that he shared last night! You can view more below or check out more on my Flickr Photostream. Enjoy! I hope to get out to the next launch on the 17th. 🙂


The first stage of the Minotaur V rocket.


Second stage on the Minotaur V rocket.


Up, up and away!!


Final stage and contrail from the Minotaur V rocket.

Three images were stacked to get this composite of my view of the launch.

Three images were stacked to get this composite of my view of the launch.

3 replies
  1. Robert Hergenrother
    Robert Hergenrother says:

    Hey Ben,

    Great pictures of the LADEE launch! I enjoy astronomy and NASA spaceflight the same way I enjoy watching and protecting wildlife. Next Wallops Island, VA launch is scheduled for this Wednesday, Sept. 18th at 10:50am. This rocket is sending a cargo craft, named Cygnus, to the International Space Station.


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