Photo Credit: Erica Kelly Martin
The event pictured is the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base on December 22, 2017, taken from Hollywood, California right as the sun was setting. The occurrence of the ghostly white halo effect pictured is due to water vapor in engine exhaust being ejected at high altitudes with extremely cold temperatures. Impurities allow for the creation of a condensation trail, not unlike those that form behind airplanes at high altitude.
I find this picture interesting not only because of the effect of the sunset lighting in the background, but also because of the ghostly white refraction of the condensation trail, creating a very awe-inspiring UFO-like phenomenon that caused some confusion among people who had no knowledge of the SpaceX launch.
2nd Place. I like the dichotomy represented in this picture. A nice peaceful sunset, shattered by the violence of a rocket launch cutting through the scene.
Third. Not only does this capture part of a beautiful sunset, but also the trail of a launch that appears to be cutting across the sky. From the viewers standpoint, the surrounding is dark as both the sunlight and light from the launch travel away.
Second Prize: It is really interesting that the rockets produce such the flow behind it. In addition, it is nice to have some trees and landscape as the background.