Last Friday, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Airforce Base on the California coast. But the light show it created in the evening sky looked less like a rocket launch and more like an alien light show, stopping traffic on the highways as people pulled over to take cell phone pictures and video of what they thought might just be the beginning of an alien takeover.

Fortunately for all of us, it wasn't just bystanders with smartphones who pointed their cameras skyward on Friday the 22nd, photographer Jesse Watson had already prepared to capture the launch, and came away with this stunning timelapse of the entire thing from Yuma, Arizona.

As he explains in the video's description, this was actually the first rocket launch he's captured:

I found out about this specific launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base a few days prior to the event. I wanted to capture this amazing spectacle in a fashion that I haven’t seen previously, as most of what I have seen is cell phones video or news reels.


I have never shot a rocket launch before, so I did not know exactly what to expect as far as exposure or precise location of the rocket in the horizon. I wanted to be prepared to capture comprehensive coverage of the spectacle. Therefore I packed four cameras and five lenses, to cover wide to telephoto details of the scene. Three of the cameras were rolling time-lapse and 1 was setup for telephoto video.

That's how he captured the 40-second timelapse above: using two Nikon D810s, a Sony a7S II, and a Sony a6500 sporting a Nikon AF-S 14-24mm F2.8G, Sigma 85mm F1.4 |Art, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 |Contemporary, and a Veydra Mini Prime 25mm T2.2 for Sony E-mount, respectively.

Check out the results for yourself up top, and then head over to the Vimeo page for a full gear list in the description.