Spectacular SpaceX rocket launch lights up the Southern California night sky

By Tariq Malik
October 09, 2018, 9:04:10 AM EDT

It was a night sky sight so dazzling, the mayor of Los Angeles told everyone not to worry about aliens: a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket streaking into the evening sky, leaving a brilliant glowing plume in its wake.

The Falcon 9 launched into orbit late Sunday(Oct. 7) from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base about 158 miles (254 kilometers) north of Los Angeles to deliver the Earth-observation radar satellite SAOCOM-1A into orbit for Argentina's national space agency. That mission was a success, and SpaceX also landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 at a new site (Landing Zone 4) near its Vandenberg launchpad in a historic first. But it was the spectacular views of the rocket streaking into the night sky, its two stages clearly visible after separation, that wowed spectators across the region.


Photographer Joaquin Baldwin captured this spectacular image of SpaceX's successful Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Oct. 7, 2018. The streak at top right is the Falcon 9 first stage returning to Earth.Credit: Joaquin Baldwin via Twitterand Instagram

"I watched the launch from Santa Ynez peak, about 40 miles from the base," said Joaquin Baldwin, a Disney feature animation layout artist and photographer who shared a dazzling view of the launch on Twitter. "It was spectacular, the fog lit up and quickly the horizon turned red. After the second stage deployed, the Falcon 9 drew spirals of light in the sky and a massive blue and magenta cloud formed. It looked as if we were staring into a nebula, with two bright eyes staring back."

Baldwin's image also shows the first stage returning to Earth.

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