Bad Astronomy

Amazing Shuttle launch video from an airplane window

When Discovery thundered into space on Thursday afternoon, I was in an airplane heading to Florida to visit family. I was hoping I might be able to see it, but my timing was off and it was already in orbit before I was close enough to see it.

But not everyone was so unfortunate! YouTube user NeilMonday got a fantastic view:

Set the resolution to 720p for the best view of it. Wow. I’m not sure how far away the plane was from the launch, but I’m guessing it was over 100 km (60 miles). There’s usually a 65 km (40 mile) no-fly zone around the launch area, and I imagine planes keep well back even from that*.

If you want to see a Shuttle go up, you have two more chances; Endeavour in April and Atlantis in June. I’ve seen a launch and it’s amazing, but you can also read what my pal Nicole Garvanarflaguten said about seeing this launch.

If you get a chance to see one of the last two launches, take it.

Tip o’ the nose cone to Stuart at AstronomyBlog.

* I love the Captain’s announcement near the beginning: “Hey folks, the Space Shuttle is going off the right side of the aircraft right now. Those of you on the right side of the aircraft, you can see the Space Shuttle. People on the left side of the aircraft, you can probably see people on the right side of the aircraft looking at the Space Shuttle.”