Monday, November 19, 2018

The Rockets Red Glare

Wasn't visible because of the clouds.

On November 17th an Antares rocket was launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. And if the conditions were right it would be visible from my neck of the woods.

Conditions were not right.

So all I got to see was orange light pollution reflecting off the clouds. Very disappointing.

πŸš€ πŸš€ πŸš€ πŸš€ πŸš€

The launch was successful. Supplies are on the way to the International Space Station. It's a good thing.

😴 😴 😴 😴 😴

The launch was at 4:01 am, so I set my alarm for 3:30 and woke up at 2:30 (grrrr). I had loaded my optical equipment in the car the evening before. So I got up. Got dressed. And headed out. My observing site was a half mile away. As I started out to my car I looked up. No stars. Not good. But if the clouds were high enough I could still see it. And it might look cool as it went through the clouds. So I decided to go.

The clouds were not high enough. I did not see the rocket. So I went home. Parked the car. Went inside. Got undressed. And went back to bed. Couldn't fall back asleep (grrrr).

Maybe next time.


If you look at the image above, the clouds are lit from underneath. That means light from the ground is aimed up. I can't think of any good reason why anyone would need to illuminate the clouds. That is just wasted energy. Some of the reason is poor lighting design. Some is ignorance. Some is the false sense that light equals security (spoiler, it doesn't!). Light pollution isn't just the bane of astronomers. It has real consequences in human health among other things (it's not good for wildlife).

This can all be fixed. The International Dark Sky Association is working to fix it. I'm a member and they deserve your support. 

No comments: