I Viewed the WorldView 4 Launch at Vandenberg

WorldView 4 Launch at Vandenberg
WorldView 4 Launch at Vandenberg. Click for the 4000×6000 version.

I went to Vandenberg to see the WorldView 4 Launch on a ULA Atlas 4. This photo is from Ocean Avenue in Lompoc, about 2.8 miles from Pad 3. Taken with a Sony a6000 camera with Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS lens, at 210mm. The 35mm equivalent focal length is 315mm.

I have now gone to 6 launch viewing attempts near the rocket, and two distant attempts to view a Vandenberg launch, from a street in LA and from the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. Of those, I saw the Falcon 9 DISCOVR launch at Cape Canaveral after being there for one scrub, I heard and did not see the Falcon 9 JASON-3 launch at Vandenberg from Ocean Avenue in the summer – too much fog. I caught a one second glimpse of a rocket in flight from LA. And now WorldView 4. I’ve been to the first attempt to launch this rocket months ago before the Vandenberg fires, a scrub of a launch at Cape Canaveral, and a scrub of another ULA launch at Vandenberg. So, this is the second launch viewing attempt to actually work out, and viewing launches can be really disappointing.

When I viewed the DISCOVR launch in Florida, it was clear enough to see the stage separation with the naked eye. At Vandenberg, there were high clouds. I was able to see a lot of the ascent using Orion Resolux 15×70 binoculars on a pantograph mount, but not the stage separation.

About the 1-second glimpse of a ULA rocket in flight from a street in LA, I saw it just as the stage separation happened. I missed a lot of that due to having houses in the way and looking in the wrong place. I could see the contrail over half of the sky afterward, so I missed a lot. It looks like you can get a good view of Vandenberg launches from the beach in LA when the weather is right and you know where to look. On a street with lots of obstruction, it’s a lot harder to catch.