Looks like the weather is going to cooperate tonight with a sight rarely seen in Connecticut – the launch of a space rocket.
And this unmanned mission is heading to the moon.
A spacecraft aboard the rocket will conduct a 100 day mission to measure lunar dust and examine the lunar atmosphere from an orbit of 40 miles above the surface of the Moon.
The rocket launch will be visible from Connecticut because it’s blasting off from Virginia (yes, Virginia) and not Cape Canaveral, Florida. Weather permitting, the soaring Minotaur rocket should be visible along much of the East Coast — as far south as South Carolina, as far north as Maine and as far west as Pittsburgh.
The southwestern Connecticut shoreline is a prime location to see the launch.
Where do you look? South/southeast.
We’re in a thin sliver where the rocket will reach 15 degrees above the horizon. Other advantages of seeing it on the shoreline: no buildings and unobstructed views.
Inland, trees and hills could be a problem since the rocket will be 15 degrees above the horizon.
As a reference, when you look at your fist with your arm fully outstretched, it spans approximately 10 degrees.
Tonight’s forecast: mostly clear, with a low around 52. West wind 3 to 5 mph.
TIP: Download the free NASA app on your smartphone to monitor the countdown and watch the liftoff on NASA TV. After launch, it will be about a minute before the rocket is visible from Connecticut.
Live launch coverage begins at 9:30 p.m
NASA is headed back to the moon, this time to explore its thin atmosphere and rough dust. Live launch coverage begins at 9:30 p.m.
Weather permitting, the soaring Minotaur rocket should be visible along much of the East Coast — as far south as South Carolina, as far north as Maine and as far west as Pittsburgh.
It will be the first moonshot ever from Virginia. Almost all of NASA’s previous moon missions over the past 54 years have originated from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The most recent was two years ago.
LADEE is short for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
A Minotaur rocket will boost the LADEE Spacecraft into a highly elliptical orbit around the Earth. Over the next 23 days, as LADEE orbits Earth 3.5 times, the Moon’s gravitational field will increase the perigee of its orbit. The spacecraft will fire its on-board thrusters to alter its trajectory to allow it to enter orbit around the Moon.
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