Musings on optics, physics, astronomy, technology and life

I’m starting a new (and occasional) series of images that demonstrate some nifty optical or physical phenomenon.

This first photo comes via Twitpic from @Astro_Wheels, also known as STS-120 astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock. Here it is:

Atlantis condensation rainbow

Col. Wheelock describes the photo as follows:

Atlantis on the move! This view of shock-wave condensation collars backlit by the Sun occurred during the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on September 8, 2000. The primary effect is created by the forward fuselage of Atlantis, and secondary effects can be seen on the solid rocket booster (SRB) forward skirt, Shuttle vertical stabilizer and wing trailing edge, and behind the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME). T minus 70 hours…and counting…Light the fire!

(He posted this photo on July 5, so that accounts for the “T minus…” bit.)

Not only is it “cool” that you can see the condensation coming off the rapidly accelerating space shuttle, but also the camera was at just the right angle to catch the rainbow effect!

(Note: Original post of this photo is at


Comments on: "Cool Photo #1: Shocking Shuttle Rainbow" (2)

  1. Unfortunately, I can’t access the photo – I get an ‘Access Denied – Request has expired’ error.

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