An aurora, a rocket, and a starry-night delight.
Hawke’s Bay’s night skies have offered up a rare triple treat, with local photographers who were prepared to brave the autumn chill rewarded with some stunning photos.
Just seven days after a successful Electron mission from Launch Complex 2 in Virginia, Rocket Lab completed another successful mission from the other side of the planet at Mahia.
“The Beat Goes On” was a Friday night delight, with Timothy Jones lining up the perfect angle showing it launching over the Tukituki Valley.
But while many photographers were out for the rocket, the aurora was arguably even more stunning.
Revin Joseph shot it from Ocean Beach, and said it was a moment he had been dreaming about “for years”.
Sightings of Aurora Australis are more common in the South Island, particularly in winter.
But a sighting in the North Island in autumn is particularly rare, requiring a combination of a clear, dark night, distance from light pollution, and strong auroral activity.
“What a night, the beautiful lady Aurora made a visit. It was one of the most memorable nights of my life,” he told Hawke’s Bay Today.
“I was actually jumping with happiness when I took the first picture. I kept taking photos until my fingers got almost numb, as it was very cold.”
Joseph said he saw the rocket launch as well, but it was the southern lights that were the focus of his camera.
The 35th Electron rocket from Mahia was Rocket Lab’s first in Hawke’s Bay since Cyclone Gabrielle.
The mission also saw Rocket Lab successfully splashdown of Electron’s first stage in the ocean as part of the Company’s plan to make Electron a reusable rocket.
“Electron has repeatedly proven itself as a reliable constellation builder and today we’re proud to deliver mission success once again for BlackSky and Spaceflight after many previous missions together,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck.