Wildlife & Wild Places

Watch NASA’s Moon Launch Tonight From the East Coast

This image shows the Minotaur V rocket that will carry NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) on a pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Va.
Credit: NASA EDGE

NASA is set to launch a rocket tonight at 11:27 pm EDT that will carry a robotic probe to the moon from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia–and it should be visible across a large portion of the North American eastern coast.

The car-sized, scientific orbiter called the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is designed to examine the structure and composition of the moon’s tenuous atmosphere and determine what role lunar dust plays in the environment. Mission results are expected to help unlock many similar long-standing mysteries seen on Mercury, asteroids, and even moons of outer planets.

This will be the first lunar mission launched from the northeast coast of North America and the first for the Minotaur V rocket, which is based on the design of intercontinental ballistic missiles from the Cold War days.

Best views of course will be from the surrounding area of the launch site, however millions of skywatchers across most of the eastern coastline of North America will have viewing opportunities too–weather permitting.

Maximum Elevation Map showing the maximum elevation in degrees above the local horizon the Minotaur rocket will reach acrodss the U.S. east coast on Sept.6, 2013. Ten degrees is equal to about the width of your fist at arm's length.  Credit: Orbital Sciences
This map shows the maximum elevation in degrees above the local horizon the Minotaur rocket will reach across the east coast on Sept.6, 2013. Ten degrees is equal to about the width of your fist at arm’s length. Credit: Orbital Sciences

Orbital Sciences, the company that put together the launch vehicle and integrated LADEE into the rocket, put together a series of graphics that show what to look for in local skies, from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

Here are a few select graphics of what the rocket path in the sky will look like from some landmarks.

Credit: Orbital Sciences
View of LADEE launch from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Credit: Orbital Sciences

 

View of LADEE launch from Battery Park, New York. Credit: Orbital Sciences
View of LADEE launch from Battery Park, New York. Credit: Orbital Sciences

 

View of LADEE launch from Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, VA. Credit: Orbital Sciences
View of LADEE launch from Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, VA. Credit: Orbital Sciences

For a much more up-close view of the launch, head to Wallops Flight Facility, where there is a viewing site set up for the public just 10 miles from the launch pad. Nearby Robert Reed Park will have a large screen, countdown, and play-by-play from NASA folks on site starting at 9:30 pm EDT.

If you can’t make it in person, then NASA will be web broadcasting the blastoff starting at 9:30 pm EDT live here. (Check for your local time)

For more information about NASA’s LADEE mission visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ladee

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • Luna Echo

    I’ll be sure to look out for LADEE

  • Luna Echo

    I’ll be sure to look out for LADEE

  • Matthew

    In which direction should we look for the rocket in Philadelphia?

  • Matthew

    In which direction should we look for the rocket in Philadelphia?

  • Selam

    Really hope to see this from Queens tonight!

  • Selam

    Really hope to see this from Queens tonight!

  • kiyoaki kato

    will watch the show in the sky. hope to see it.

  • kiyoaki kato

    will watch the show in the sky. hope to see it.

  • geetha

    Nasa is doing a wonderful service to the world of science.

  • williams

    Wow

  • williams

    Wow

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media