Sunday, November 15, 2015

NASA Photo of the Day

November 11:
An Unexpected Rocket Plume over San Francisco
Image Credit & Copyright: Abe Blair (Abe Blair Gallery)
Explanation: What is that unusual light in the sky? A common question, this particular light was not only bright but moving and expanding. It appeared just as the astrophotographer and his friend were photographing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California against a more predictable night sky. They were not alone in seeing this unusual display -- at least hundreds of people in California reported a similar sight. The consensus of experienced sky observers was that the plume resulted from a rocket launch -- an explanation that was soon confirmed as an unpublicized test of a submarine-launched, unarmed, Trident II D5 nuclear missile. Such tests are not uncommon but do not usually occur just after sunset near a major metropolitan area -- when they are particularly noticeable to many people. Were plume images not posted to the Internet and quickly identified, such a sky spectacle might have been understood by some to be associated with more grandiose -- but incorrect -- explanations.


  1. A Trident D5 missile can destroy a city block, even without a warhead. It is launched from beneath the surface of the ocean so the topside deck doesn't get welded shut. Trident submarines do not even submerge until they are in thousands of feet of water. There is abso-freaking-lutely no way the Navy would ever test this missile, any missile, in that place. Shame on whoever made up this story and/or this photo. -- Trident Submariner, ETRO

  2. Well, whatever the real story is, the Navy seems to be claiming it.