Never let anyone tell you that all launches are the same. This video merges two of my favorite subjects: rocket launches and atmospheric optics.

Here, the SDO launch occurs at a fabulous viewing angle. The person filming the launch is at the perfect vantage point where the transition to supersonic speed by the rocket corresponds to the appropriate angle for a sundog. Watch the film…

As you can see, the shock travelling out from the rocket as it breaks the sound barrier totally obliterates the cloud that created the sundog. By dissipating the ice crystals in the atmosphere that focused the sun’s rays, the sundog is disrupted. That’s not to say that the water vapor or ice crystals were destroyed, but the precise alignment that focused the light has been modified, causing the sundog to disappear in an instant.

Often people talk about “sonic booms” as things one can only hear. But here is a pristine visual example of that effect. How cool is that!


2 Responses to “Now THAT is SWEET!”

  1. Wicked cool! Thanks for finding that.

  2. This was the APOD for today (February 23rd).
    There’s a forum discussion about what precisely happened:

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