Sonic Boom Meets Sun Dog from barbara tomlinson on Vimeo.
Video from Kennedy Space Center Apollo Center February 11, 2010. Launch of Solar Dynamics Observatory on an Atlas V rocket. About 1 minute 14 seconds after liftoff the vehicle went supersonic. The shock wave obliterated a sun dog. It was really beautiful, and poetic for this mission. A sun dog or parhelion is a bright rainbow effect in the sky caused by refraction of sunlight through ice crystals.
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The launch of the Atlas V rocket carrying the Solar Dynamics Observatory was beautiful. I am very pleased with the images I captured with my inexpensive camera. The NASA video on YouTube didn't even show the shock wave.
After the sonic boom the rocket went through a layer of the atmosphere with enough moisture to make a nice contrail. Why is it so erratic? I can only guess it was from wind sheer. *Update: Dr. Patronis called me and explained that the rocket exhaust vents are on gimbals and they're constantly adjusting to keep the rocket going straight and true. Of course they are.