If the skies are clear tonight and you find yourself walking along the boardwalk at Coney Island or Brighton Beach, or by the Shore Parkway greenway along Gravesend Bay, you might just see a NASA rocket blasting towards the moon. Reader and contributor Ben Cooper tipped us off to the launch of the Minotaur V, a rocket carrying a small spacecraft called LADEE to the moon, and how you can catch it rising over the horizon tonight.
In his message to us, Cooper explained how to catch a glimpse of the rocket:
This Friday night, if skies are clear (and looks good so far), there will be a small rocket launch from NASA’s Virginia launch site known as Wallops Island that will be visible to NYers, especially down here along the ocean and boardwalk.
The Minotaur V rocket will carry a NASA spacecraft called LADEE to the moon; first ever moon launch from Virginia. The launch is slated for 11:27pm and there is a four minute window. (If it delays to Saturday it’s a 15 min window opening at 11:28pm and changes here and there each day).
From south Brooklyn/the boardwalk the general direction to look is just over the NJ part we can see (sandy hook area), arching up and to the left towards Breezy Point as it gains altitude. It would look like a bright moving star going up and out over the ocean (distance from here is about 200 miles).
Visibility info and graphics for some areas are here:
NewsInfo/MissionUpdates/ MinotaurV/index.shtmlThey are hoping to gain some attention for Wallops Island, which most of the public never heard of before recently really and has now become a launch site for small satellites like this. I think that is why they have put out all these graphics to get people interested.
Wallops Island has been a NASA facility for decades, but in terms of actual space launches the new launch pad they have just opened in 2006 and they have had I think five small rocket launches from it so far.
As for the mission itself, NASA summed up the entire project in this nifty graphic presented at right. If anyone snaps a great shot of the rocket tonight, please e-mail it into us so we can share it with everybody in the community. Thanks again go out to Ben Cooper for all the great information! Be sure to visit Ben’s website, Launch Photography, by clicking here.