This Saturday (May 8) you'll want to make sure you're looking to the eastern sky around 8 pm. If we're not dealing with too much cloud cover, there's a good chance you'll briefly be able to see a rocket launching from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia.

When should you look to the sky?

The Black Brant XII rocket is scheduled to launch no later than 8:02 pm on Saturday night. There's a 40-minute launch window after 8:02 p.m. The rocket will be visible from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River as it flies overhead. Keep in mind, there will be 60-90 seconds of rocket visibility after the launch.


Immediately after release of the vapor, the spherical clouds are a mixture of green and violet, but that phase only lasts about 30 seconds when the un-ionized component of the cloud has diffused away. After exposure to sunlight the vapor clouds quickly ionize and take on a violet color. The ionized portion of the cloud becomes tied to the magnetic field lines and diffuses parallel to the field lines but not perpendicular to it. In the mid-Atlantic region latitudes, the field lines are inclined by about 45 degrees to the horizontal, so the violet clouds stretch out in a slanted orientation and look more like short trails than a cloud. Because the motion of the neutral portion of the clouds is not constrained by the magnetic field lines, they spread out more quickly and become too thin to see with the naked eye much sooner than the ionized component.

Again, clouds will play a major factor in whether or not you'll see the rocket. As of right now, they're calling for cloudy skies in our area. Fingers crossed, I really hope we'll be able to see it.

If you'd rather watch on a screen, NASA will live stream the event beginning at 7:40 p.m. on their site here.

Source: WXYZ

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