Are these awesome clouds a result of the shuttle launch? – UPDATED

Hobo illustrator and LOLcats historian Ape Lad asks, "I live 55 miles West of Cape Canaveral, and a little over an hour after the launch, these clouds could be seen over Orlando. Could they be related to the launch?"

Previously on BoingBoing:

  • Space Shuttle Atlantis, mission STS-117, lifts off
  • Reader comments: Short answer, yes the clouds are directly related to the shuttle launch. They are also simulacra!

    Jay Schomer sent in this upside-down version of the same photo, and was one of many to point out that it really does kinda looks like a flying angel when you look at it in that direction. Turn it sideways, and you see the face of Jesus in a tortilla.

    Sam Stein was among the many readers who pointed us to this BBC News article, which includes this photo and a caption indicating it was related to the Shuttle launch.

    Robotech_Master says,

    Regarding Ape Lad's clouds, I think this passage from Fallen Angels chapter 21 explains it:

    "Remember the vapor trail, sprawled all over the sky? They used to call that 'frozen lightning,' the Germans did, I mean. It's in Willy Ley's books," Bailey said. "In the thirties they thought their rockets were going wild-–"

    "It's just stratospheric winds blowing the vapor trail around," Mike Glider said, sticking his head into camera view. Umber scowled.

    "Yeah, but it looks like something spun by a spider on LSD. The Green bigshot cop, Moorkith, he saw the frozen lightning and thought the Phoenix must have crashed. He was searching the desert for Phoenix while the whole gang drove away."

    Zan and many others wrote in to say,

    According to Spaceflight Now, the clouds are in fact exhaust from the space shuttle launch. See their dramatic image halfway down the page.

    chris myers says,

    Space shuttle contrails confirmed in this Flickr set: Link.

    Lars Peterson says,

    Here in SoCal we occasionally get crazy cloud formations similar to those noticed by the LOLcats guy down in Florida. The formations (like the one in the linked photo) are the result of rocket launches at Vandenberg AFB, which is up the coast beyond Santa Barbara. So it seems likely those clouds are connected to the Shuttle launch.

    Here is one image, and more Vandenberg launch photos (including "the classic 'Illuminated Sperm Cell' as the rocket flys into direct sunlight") and info here. (I'm not connected to that site; it's just the result of a quick google search).

    Thanks to BB reader Eric Hartwell, too — he points us to more confirmation, and a related set of images, at NASA: Link.