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Chinese Long March Rocket Fuel Dump

By: Jonathan Green

 

Leigh, New Zealand

2015 March 30

 

A Notable Photo of the 2015 International Earth & Sky Photo Contest
From the photographer: "The first thing you might notice in this panorama is a strange bright object near the center of the image, it kind of looks like a weird bright Magellanic cloud, the object in question is in fact a fuel dump from a Chinese Long March rocket, when I first spotted the event it was so bright I thought I was witnessing a Supernova! but after a while I noticed it wasn't moving with the stars but was enigmatically drifting slowly down to the horizon, the whole event took place over half an hour on the 30th of March from 14:30 - 15:00 UTC. In all my years of doing astronomy and astrophotography I had never seen anything like it before, so for me this was in the truest sense of the word a U.F.O thankfully after doing some research the next day and with a whole lot of help from my online friends we confirmed the identity of this mysterious object as being the fuel dump from a Chinese Long March rocket that was carrying a satellite called Beidou-3 M1. This image was perhaps one of the most difficult panoramas I've ever done so far, with the light pollution from a distant Auckland city (the brightest light pollution in the image) and the little seaside town of Leigh as well as the zodiacal light reaching up under the galactic center and the glow near the horizon from the break of astronomical dawn, it was a blending nightmare, fortunately it has pushed me into learning new blending skills both in PT GUI and Photoshop."
Jonathan Green

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