That trail behind the Empire State Building is a Minotaur V rocket taking a spacecraft to the Moon. The photo was taken by Ben Cooper from Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center, 265 miles away from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Here are 10 more phenomenal launch photos from Mr. Cooper:
Orion launch on Delta 4 Heavy
Atlas 5 launches New Horizons, first mission to Pluto
Delta 4 Heavy
First launch of Delta 4 Heavy
STS-135: Last shuttle launch
Delta 4 launch from afar
Delta 2 launch countdown at Complex 17. The red lights belong to the movable service tower, photographed in long exposure as it moved away from the launch pad.
Bonus: Endeavour cockpit
Ben Cooper is a freelance photographer based out of Daytona Beach, Florida. He has covered launches and other events at Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center since July 1999, photographing over 100 missions and launches to date. He worked for NASA on the shuttle program from 2008 to 2011.