Nighttime rocket launch will be visible on east coast, tonight

A rocket that is due to take off Monday evening at 6:45 pm from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia will be the first-ever nighttime launch. It will also be visible from most places on the East Coast.

For those interested in seeing the rocket in the air, the process might be easy – if you’re in a rural-enough location. It will be viewable from Massachusetts to South Carolina, as long as skies remain clear – and should be roughly 10-15 degrees above the southern horizon line, at its furthest point away from the launch site.


This though will be a momentous occasion for the space program that is taking off from Wallops Island, Virginia, as it will be the first nighttime launch in history of the space program. It is a two-stage Antares rocket, and if spectators have a pair of binoculars handy, they could actually see the V-shape of the bottom of the rocket, as well.

This will mark the third cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station for NASA. The deal impressively costs $1.9 billion, and if all goes according to plan, the Cygnus spacecraft should arrive on-time, November 2nd to make its delivery.

However, this launch will vary widely depending on where you are in relation to the takeoff. For example, the closer you are, the further away from the horizon line the rocket will appear. The further you are from the rocket – the closer to the horizon line the craft will appear. The launch time will be 6:45 pm and most spectators should see the rocket within 100 seconds of launch, from most vantage points.

Scientists urge though to use binoculars if you’re truly looking for a significantly improved view, that won’t be hampered. The object will look like a star moving through the sky, but will obviously be moving in a way that is not normal for stars. A further breakdown of the timeline of the launch reveals that after 180 seconds the craft will be illuminated by the sun. That could make the object appear brighter in the sky, than it would traditionally be. Then, after 239 seconds the craft will have spent all of its fuel, and it will break up in the atmosphere.

In all spectators should be able to see a fairly well-lit object flying upward in the sky for approximately 4 minutes and 41 seconds. However, this will all be weather permitting, according to scientists – as to whether spectators will even be able to see this object flying well-enough to note in the sky.