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Bundle up Sunday morning to view a rocket streaking across the mid-Atlantic skyline

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
November 11, 2017, 5:54:52 PM EST

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People across the mid-Atlantic may see a rocket fly through the sky on Sunday morning as it blasts off from Wallops Island, Virginia.

An Antares rocket is set to launch from the Wallops Island Flight Facility at 7:14 a.m. EST Sunday in a mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch was originally scheduled for Saturday morning but was delayed due to an airplane in the vicinity of the launch pad.

Major launches of this type can be visible across the entire region, but they do not happen often. The most recent Antares launch took place on the evening of Oct. 17, 2016, and was visible from over 200 miles away.

Antares rocket

The Antares rocket clears the launch pad on its way to orbit from Wallops Island, Va., on April 21, 2013. (Photo/NASA/Bill Ingalls)


It will be cold with some clouds on Sunday morning, so onlookers will want to bundle up when they step outside to glimpse the rocket.

Temperatures at Wallops Island are forecast to be around 30 F on Saturday night ahead of the launch, but temperatures farther inland will drop into the 20s.

Those traveling to the Wallops Island area to experience the launch up close should pack a few hand warmers and wear multiple layers to stay warm while waiting for the launch.

There are many areas around Wallops Island to view the launch from, including the NASA Visitor Center which opens at 3:30 a.m. EST on Sunday.

How to view the launch from far away

Wallops launch 2


People far away from Wallops Island may still be able to see the rocket, appearing as a bright dot, similar to a star, slowly moving across the sky as it races into space.

Under the right conditions, the Antares rocket can be seen along the East coast from Connecticut to North Carolina and as far inland as West Virginia.

The launch may be difficult to see from farther away since it is happening during the day. Clouds moving into the mid-Atlantic may also block the view for spectators across the region.

The best way to try to see the rocket on Sunday morning is to have a clear view of the horizon in the direction of Wallops Island. This varies depending on your location, so be sure to look at a map ahead of time and know which direction to look on Saturday morning.

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The Antares rocket will be carrying a Cygnus spacecraft, which will deliver 7,000 pounds of food, clothing, science experiments and other supplies to the ISS.

This particular Cygnus spacecraft has been named the S.S. Gene Cernan after former astronaut Eugene “Gene” Cernan. Cernan passed away on Jan. 16, 2017, and was the last man to step foot on the moon.


Questions or comments? Email Brian Lada at Brian.Lada@accuweather.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter!


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