Double Your Photography Website Traffic in 12 Weeks

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
Featured Projects

Lucky Photographer Captures Missile Launch Footage In Time-Lapse

By Hanssie on November 10th 2015

Sometimes we make plans, spending hours figuring out how we are going to set up a shot and other times we get lucky and are in the right place at the right time.


That’s what happened to San Francisco photographer,  and his friend Abe Blair. The pair was out shooting a time-lapse of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend on Slacker Hill, waiting for some nice shots of the famous landmark with the fog rolling in. Though fog seemed unlikely on the clear night, the pair decided to hang out anyway. They left their cameras in the bag and just brainstormed ideas. As night fell, Justin set up his camera to do some time-lapse of the bridge, when about 100 shots into it, the pair noticed something that looked like a meteor shooting across the sky. Justin shouted to Abe to “shoot it!” and stopped his time-lapse to shoot video. By that time, the meteor-like object had blown up and expanded over the city. Justin wrote me in an email,

I remember saying over and over, “What was that??” I had to remove the audio from the clip because of the profanity we were yelling with excitement! I knew it was not a meteor because it I watched it leave the atmosphere. It was a very exciting and thrilling moment. I couldn’t believe our luck. I was set up aimed almost perfect with the perfect low light camera (Sony a7s) and a fast Zeiss lens. I’ve never seen anything like that and I don’t know if I ever will again. Truly a capture of a lifetime.

It turns out Justin and Abe captured a Trident D5 ballistic missile launched by the U.S. Navy who was conducting tests of the missiles off the USS Kentucky. According to the official statement, “The missile was not armed. Strategic Systems Programs does not routinely announce missile testing. Information regarding the test launch of Trident II (D5) missiles is classified before the launch.”

You can see more of Justin’s work on his website here.

In other related news, numerous Southern Californians freaked out and reported UFO sightings this weekend. No aliens in sight, folks, just a ballistic missile launch.

[Via FoxTrotAlpha]

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. robert garfinkle

    When I was in service, the Navy, we performed similar exercises. We did have communications with FAA announcing our intentions to perform missile tests; it was very highly regulated. And in one instance, we had a tad of a mishap. No one got hurt, but I would imagine our weps commander got scolded let’s say… not sure of the exact consequences, but none the less. He wasn’t happy….

    We were to perform a missile test, due North – we had a cleared airspace that day. Note, the missile had no warhead / payload. I was on the port bridge watch, a front row seat more or less. Our missile house was in the front of the ship, facing due East towards California, about 120 miles from the coast. Missile loads on the rails, rails turn facing North, controlling 55 bravo radar also pointed North.

    The officer in charge of pushing the button performed a countdown – over the loud speaker, 10, 9, 8…. 3, 2, 1, and….


    The missile did not fire. There was silence for a few minutes, then the missile was turned 90 degrees the opposite direction. The missile doors opened, the missile went back into the missile house, the doors closed…

    Two gunner’s mates were sent out to check the contacts, they were dirty and corroded. They cleaned them up, ensure they’d make contact, and went back inside the ship…

    A few moment’s later, the missile doors opened, the missile was loaded back on the rails, missile doors closed…

    a couple moments after that, you could hear two officers arguing over the intercom, one blaming the other over the mishap (for not firing), then, all of a sudden, you hear one officer say “F!@# IT!!”, and the missile fires… left the launcher just fine. With one minor problem, well two problems actually…

    1. The missile was not turned due North, as planned. Oops!! It was heading East this time…
    2. The radar which could be used to send a self-destruct message to the missile, was still facing North, and could not be turned while the missile was in flight. So, the self-destruct signal could not be sent…

    The missile landed about 100 yards off the coast of Santa Barbara….

    Fishing was good that day…. I bet…

    And one of the sailors walked up to the weps officer after the fact, and says… “You can’t dump trash within 50 miles of shore; but a few missiles are ok!!!” – yes, he got into trouble for saying that :)

    and so it goes…

    | |
  2. Dolores Wiens

    Very very cool! Some of my friends saw it soar across the sky here in St. George, Utah, too!

    | |
  3. Colin Woods

    Beautiful, what great luck to be there armed with the right equipment and on a clear night.

    | |
  4. Peter Nord

    So cool. The kind of shot to register at the Copyright Office.

    | |