Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rocket Launch Tomorrow night!

Rocket launch tomorrow night out of Vandenberg! These tend to be lovely spectacles when they happen close to twilight, and this one should be visible for "at least 200 miles", weather permitting. IE: if you live somewhere in Southern CA, you will probably be able to see this if you have a clear view to the West. Actually, just based on the geometry of a typical Delta II rocket launch and a spherical Earth, the above map shows the range of visibility (the farther from the rocket you are, the lower over the horizon it appears).

Once the rocket climbs into sunlight, the exhaust plume and trail tend to be very visible! You can see pictures from a previous twilight launch a few years ago here:



If you're in Southern CA, just be outside looking Northwest (toward Vandenberg) at 7:28 pm on Friday (tomorrow) 10/24! The rocket should come from the Northwest and head pretty much due South.

Oh, and you can check for updates on this particular launch at the following website, which will have a launch video webcast starting 30 minutes prior to launch:

And this is a great website with lots of info on all-things-space for the Southern California community:

(P.S.: These launches do sometimes scrub at the last minute, so if you're not seeing anything within 10 minutes or so of being out there, you might want to check the above update website to see if it was canceled.)


Michael said...

I think i saw it, but it definitely didn't look like the photos you posted. My brother and I saw a distant red glow heading south and low in the horizon shortly after 7:28 PM. We followed the light for several minutes as it was slowly rising against the flat horizontal line of the horizon, then finally disappeared. We assumed that was the end of stage 1, then left.

David said...

Yeah, even though it was only about an hour and a half after sunset, I guess that was too late for the rocket's exhaust to be illuminated by sunlight as it climbed into orbit.

I also saw the red/orange glow as it made it's way south. It was still plenty visible, and distinguishable from airplanes, but not near as beautiful as the twilight launch from a few years ago.