Wallops Island Notilucent Cloud Experiment

From: Skywayinc@aol.com
Date: Sun Sep 20 2009 - 00:25:24 UTC

  • Next message: David Tiller: "Fwd: Wallops Island Notilucent Cloud Experiment"

    This evening, NASA launched a Black Brant Rocket  from Wallops Island, 
    Virginia in order
    to attempt to create an artificial  noctilucent cloud from a point roughly 
    100 miles east 
    of Wallops and at an  altitude of about 170 miles. I had alerted my 
    television audience last
    night  on News 12 about the launch and posted a blog about it both at the 
    News 12  site
    and also at the Hayden Planetarium.  
    I wasn't exactly sure  what we would see from the New York Tri-State Area, 
    but my wife,
    Renate and I  were on the lookout, directing our attention toward an area 
    about 20 to  30
    degrees above the southern horizon.  Our location was Putnam Valley,  NY, 
    about 50 miles
    north of Manhattan.  Skies were perfectly clear with  excellent 
    The Black Brant Rocket lifted off  from wallops on schedule at 7:46 p.m. EDT
    Six minutes later at 7:52 p.m.  my wife and I, saw a brilliant object, of 
    at least 
    magnitude -3 to -4,  displaying a wide, fan-shaped tail . . . like a comet 
    . . . appearing above  
    the Teapot asterism in Sagittarius.  
    The "tail" was pointing  downward and gradually lengthened to about 10 or 
    and widened to  about 5 or 10 degrees over a span of about 30 seconds.  
    It was all  so quick!
    The "head" of the comet (which was the rocket's fourth stage)  rapidly faded
    out and the "tail" gradually faded over the next minute or so  into the 
    background of
    the sky.  I should note that my southern sky  suffers from considerable 
    light pollution, so 
    the residual glow probably  disappeared more quickly as opposed to a 
    completely dark 
    sky. Even with 7X  binoculars, it was difficult to discern after about a 
    minute or so.
    It  was very impressive . . . albeit short-lived.  
    I'm sure many people  along the US East Coast were surprised by this
    strange sight!
    -- joe  rao  
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