WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Stargazers might be able to catch a glimpse of the launch of a lunar satellite from spots in Westchester County and across the Northeast late Friday night.
The launch of a Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere Dust and Environment Explorer (LADEE) is scheduled for 11:27 p.m. Friday. If weather conditions allow, the rocket’s path should be visible from points from as far south as North Carolina and as far north as Maine. NASA is also live-broadcasting the launch on its web page.
The rocket will look like a bright shooting star rising from the horizon line and traveling in an arc. Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the site of the launch, lies southeast of New York, so the launch will appear in that direction.
Those watching from New York should first see the rocket between 60 and 80 seconds after the launch begins. People closer to the shore will be able to see more of the flight than those farther inland. At its peak from this point-of-view, the rocket will be about 10 to 15 degrees above the horizon, or just above the height of a closed fist held out at arm’s length.
Friday’s event is the first launch of a Minotaur V rocket, which is made up partially of decommissioned military missile-carrying rockets. The rocket has been specially designed to carry LADEE to the moon, where it will analyze the lunar atmosphere.
“A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns, and help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well,” NASA explains on its website.