Early in the video of the launch of the first sixty SpaceX Starlink satellites we can see that after stage separation the first stage grid fins open.

Around that time there are some phenomena I don't recognize after about 16:44:

  1. bright flash of light
  2. blue "plasma clouds" (I don't know what it is really)
  3. bright white glow of the grid fins, fading to dark.

This was a launch in darkness and I don't think that sunlight was at play here. It seems to be a color camera of some kind (the blue stuff) so the grid fin glow isn't thermal IR, it seems to be white light.

What's going on? What causes these three phenomena?

(sorry for the low quality GIF, I used ImageJ because Giphy won't accept long YouTube videos.

SpaceX Starlink Mission screenshots

  • $\begingroup$ Giphy won't accept long videos, so I stitched screenshots into the GIF using ImageJ. If anybody knows an easy way to make a better looking GIF for SE, possibly with Python, please let me know! $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 25 '19 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ The light source is the 2nd stage ignition (happening behind the camera). $\endgroup$ – amI May 26 '19 at 6:53
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    $\begingroup$ at 16:46 (T+00:02:46) you get green TEA/TEB glow in the 2nd stage engine on right, and this green light illuminates the 1st stage on the left. From there on, brightness and color on the right has corresponding changes on the left, until the 2nd stage is far away (or the grid fins are in shadow). $\endgroup$ – amI May 26 '19 at 8:51
  • $\begingroup$ @amI okay I'll take a look as soon as I get to a reasonable device, thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 26 '19 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ I was hoping someone could say whether the bright streaks are ice and the cloudy blobs are cold gas and what are their sources. $\endgroup$ – amI May 30 '19 at 9:30

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