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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 12:27 pm 
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In view of the weather forecast for the next few days, this might be academic. However, there’s a launch of an Antares rocket with a Cygnus cargo vessel for the ISS scheduled for Sunday morning, May 20, 2018, from Wallops Island, VA. The five-minute window starts at 5:04 am.

Here’s the new Wallops info page...

https://sites.wff.nasa.gov/wmsc/#/home

There will be a concurrent bright ISS pass (magnitude -3.9). Check Heavens-Above (or your favorite satellite app) for details.

Perhaps if the weather is bad enough, the launch will be delayed until there are more favorable observing conditions. Check the link for updates.

Joe

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2018 10:37 am 
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The launch has now been postponed (because of weather?) until Monday, May 21, at 4:39 am EDT.

There will be a bright ISS pass (magnitude -3.4) that morning too, but it’s a little earlier than the launch, peaking about 4:15 am. I’m not sure how the timing works, one day they’re concurrent, the next day they’re about 25 minutes apart.

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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 8:05 am 
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I can't wait for 17 scrubbed launches because of weather and stupid fishermen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111

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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 10:40 am 
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An exaggeration I’m sure. The most I’ve ever waited was for the enhanced tracer cloud delivery test last June (2017). I went out ten (10) times, almost all to Carranza Field in WhartonState Forest — a 30 mile trip (one way). This test was particularly sensitive to clear skies since the whole point was to test the cloud visibility. In the end, I was rewarded with a nice view, even though I was under some cloud cover at the time. See...

http://sjastro.org/older-29.htm

Back in 2012, we went to East Point, NJ, for the ATREX launch. It was only the second attempt after an earlier scrub (if I remember correctly), but there was a delay that March morning. The five-hour window opened around midnight, and because of glitches (notably, the dreaded boat in the exclusion zone), it launched just before the close of the window at 5 am.

We (Jerry Lodriguss, Ray Maher and myself) stood in the cold breeze at the edge of the Delaware Bay for nearly five hours (well, we probably retired to the car a few times). They brought cameras, but I had my 12.5-inch dob, so the time was not wasted. In addition to general observing, we saw Omega Centauri and Centaurus A just above it, as well a supernova in M95.

When the rockets launched (there was actually a battery of five rockets), the rocket exhaust trails were disappointing at best, barely visible for the most part, then the sky was just dark. As we pondered the seeming waste of time, about 10 or 15 minutes after launch time, white clouds started to appear and they blossomed into one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen in the sky. Jerry had an APOD with one of his shots (the only APOD I’ve seen ahead of time on the back of the camera from the front seat of my car). Here it is...

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120329.html

The Sagittarius Teapot is below center. The “C” asterism at the border between Aquila and Scutum (which is often used as a guide to find M11, the Wild Duck cluster) is plainly visible above-left of center. Look closely at the large version and you can see the reddish carbon star, V Aql, near 12 Aql in the “C.”

Dwelling on an exaggerated negative is not a very productive observing technique.

As of now (late Sunday morning, May 20, 2018), the Antares launch is still scheduled for 4:39 am EDT on May 21. Amazingly, the awful weather we’ve been having the past few days (and the forecast had been just as awful) seems to now be clearing for tonight into Monday morning. I will be ready to watch the launch.

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 5:27 am 
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I saw it — briefly — from the street out front of my house in Maple Shade, NJ.

When I first stepped out at 4:10 am EDT on May 21, 2018, to look at the ISS pass that would peak around 4:15 am, it was mostly overcast. The clouds towards the south seemed heavier and bright Mars was not visible. Clouds to the north looked lighter and some stars were visible.

Indeed, the ISS was spotted a couple of minutes before the peak under the handle of the Big Dipper in the northwest. It was fairly bright as it moved overhead, but faded considerably as it dropped down in east. It was the fifth of five visible passes overnight. I also saw the first and third passes (the second was clouded out, I didn’t try for the fourth). Tonight, May 21/22, there will be six (6) visible passes, weather permitting. There will be five again on May 22/23.

Anyway, I was having a little trouble with the video on the Wallops link, so I went to NASA TV for “live” coverage after I came in from watching the ISS. Luckily, I caught the announcement that the launch would be pushed to the end of the 5-minute window, for a new launch time of 4:44:06 am EDT. However, watching the displayed countdown clock vs. the new launch time compared to my accurately-set watch, the video was a minute behind.

At 4:44 am, with a minute left on the countdown clock, I went back out to watch for the Antares rocket. Mars was now very bright, but there were still clouds below it towards the south. Morning twilight was evident too. I scanned the south fruitlessly for the rocket glow, and was ready to give up, then suddenly at 4:49 am (glancing at my watch in the dark), there was a bright white patch (about 2 to 3 degrees in extent) towards the SSE, roughly 10 deg altitude.

With 15x56 binoculars, I could see long curving streaks of rocket exhaust, plus a bright white dot that fell behind and faded. Judging from the time and color, this was the second stage ignition. The previous Antares launch I saw had a decidedly red first-stage exhaust and white second-stage exhaust. This bright white patch only lasted 10 to 15 seconds. I suspect that clouds obscured any subsequent view.

After a long wait to see this launch, the clouds and resultant brief display were a bit disappointing — but at least I saw something.

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