Space enthusiasts play 'spot the shuttle' (photos)
As Discovery makes its final flight, space fiends in the Washington, D.C., area point their cameras skyward to capture the historic sight. See their dramatic shots here.
It wasn't your everyday sight. Bolted to the back of a NASA 747 jumbo jet, the Shuttle Discovery made its last flight today, headed from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Dulles International Airport en route to its final home at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's nearby Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
We've already seen some great official NASA shots of the shuttle hitching a ride, but we wanted to see the display through the eyes of the many space enthusiasts who pointed their cameras and phones skyward today in hopes of capturing history. The results of their photographic efforts have been pouring in to Twitter all day (hashtag #SpotTheShuttle), and onto NASA's Spot the Shuttle Flickr site.
Click through our gallery to see a handful of our favorite shots from the D.C. crowd on the ground.
With its retro styling, this stunning shot appears to come from another time. Tony Eckersley snapped it at the Top of the Town conference center in Arlington, Va. He arrived there early, camera in hand.
"We all expected the plane to fly in from the south, but it actually came from the north, meaning everyone was facing the wrong way," Eckersley told CNET. "I wasn't fully ready with my camera, so I set up the shot quickly and the auto white balance went a little crazy, making the image too warm -- hence the sepia tone. It was overexposing due to the clouds, so in turn, the plane was underexposed."
Judging by how the shot came out, we'd call that a happy accident.
Ethan Klapper, a Huffington Post social-media editor, was among many photographers who tapped Instagram filters to add even more drama to the shuttle's final flight. Here, Discovery flies over the Washington Monument.
A wider shot of the Washington Monument by Tony Eckersley captures a big day in the life of NASA and its well-traveled spacecraft, which blasted off on its maiden voyage on August 30, 1984, and ultimately flew 39 missions.
Darren Milligan, a digital-media designer and producer at Smithsonian Education, snapped this pic of the shuttle flying over the Smithsonian Castle, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., behind the National Museum of African Art.
"Thank you @NASA and @airandspace for a morning that reminded me how seriously amazing humans can be!" Milligan tweeted.
Shuttle Discovery definitely isn't hard to spot, however, as it comes in low on final approach at Dulles International Airport. Keith Gillan snapped the shot at 11:05 a.m. ET using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and standing, appropriately, next to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where it will make its permanent home.