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I think it may be related to the sun, but I don't understand the "tooth" shape in the GIF - is this a shadow of something? Is the spacecraft already spinning for the satellite deployment?

What are the sources of light. Possibly some combination of Sun, Earthshine, infrared/red thermal radiation from the nozzle, but is there also artificial illumination from the spacecraft for the camera?

I can't understand exactly what I'm looking at here (the mechanism making this pattern of light on the nozzle).

Full video shown here - use the launch time code T+ 00:26:30 to 00:28:30 for reference.

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above: Early illustration of a 2nd stage, shown without a large communications satellite payload from the Spaceflight 101 article Falcon 9 v1.1 & F9R Launch Vehicle Overview. The dimension listed there as about 3.7m x 13.8m without payload adapter. This is for reference only.

The second stage looks much shorter in the images in this question but it is described as an "incomplete stage". It seems it might be from 2010.

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  • $\begingroup$ also - can someone suggest a better way to make a GIF? I use ImageJ but occasionally (like here) changing to 8-bit color looks horrible. Either a nice Python or on-line solution (no software downloads). Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 14 '16 at 6:29
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    $\begingroup$ It looks to me like the aft end of the nozzle is illuminated by the Sun, the foward end is in shadow and glowing from heat, and the jagged boundary is a shadow casr by the end of the stage and its various appurtenances. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Aug 14 '16 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble so in the GIF (T+ 00:26:30 to 00:27:30 roughly) the sun is behind us (from the camera's point of view)? Is the nozzle metal or ceramic - opaque or translucent? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 14 '16 at 11:47
  • $\begingroup$ The nozzle is metal, opaque, but fairly thin; while the engine is burning, it glows red-hot -- the nozzle extension is cooled by that radiation. Pic of the extension here: space.stackexchange.com/questions/8806/… $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Aug 14 '16 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ This is sunlight and a shadow from the payload, which has a lot of square corners, if you look at its photographs. $\endgroup$ – kkm Aug 14 '16 at 18:54

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