Photographer captures spectacular shot of NASA launch against the Empire State Building


posted Monday, September 9, 2013 at 1:16 PM EDT

Ben Cooper/

On Friday night, East Coast inhabitants from North Carolina to Maine were afforded the privilege to watch as NASA launched a rocket moonwards. And photographer Ben Cooper was able to capture that launch from the middle of New York City, showing it right against the Empire State Building.

The launch was of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), which is on a robotic mission to orbit the Moon, and send back info on lunar environments. For 160 days, it'll give us information that we previously lacked on what the Moon's atmosphere is like, and is also a breakthrough in that it was able to be designed and built extremely quickly due to its modular design, and is the first mission using the new Minotaur V rocket.

For the photograph, Cooper shot from the top of the Rockefeller Center, some 200 miles away from the launchpad, with the Empire State building lit up for the US Open. Here's how he describes the shot:

LADEE TO THE MOON! As seen from the Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center, about 200 miles north of the launch pad, the first Orbital Sciences Minotaur V rocket sends NASA's LADEE spacecraft on its way to the moon! The Empire State Building is lit up green and blue in honor of the US Open of tennis, being played in Flushing, Queens this week.

From the EXIF info, we're able to glean that Cooper shot with a Nikon D700, a 5s exposure at f/8, ISO 400, and an 80mm focal length. 

While Cooper's shot may be the best of the night, he certainly wasn't the only one with their cameras aimed skywards. You can see more images on Flickr,, and EarthSky.

(via Gizmodo

"LADEE heads to moon aboard Minotaur V" Ben Cooper/