There Was A Weird Bright Red Cloud Trail Over The East Coast

If you were on the East coast on Tuesday night and saw a bright red streak through the sky, you weren’t alone. A NASA rocket test left a trail of red light through the night sky, as a test run in preparation for the launch of two upcoming space observation missions, according to Discover Magazine’s 80 Beats blog.

Here’s the rocket:

NASA rocket testThe rocket.

Photo: Image courtesy of NASA / Wallops Flight Facility

The red glow came from two exploding lithium canisters ignited after launch. They left trails that were high enough to be illuminated by the glow of the sun, turning them red.

These trails were visible from lots of places on the Eastern seaboard (from Canada to Florida). The rocket launched around 6 PM, EST, from Wallops Island, Virginia. Here’s the map of where you should have been able to see the red trails:

Wallops rocket visibility mapLaunch visibility map. The blue line indicates the rocket’s projected course. The circles show where and when the vapor trails should be visible.

Photo: Image courtesy of NASA / Wallops Flight Facility

Here’s the rocket as it launched. It then successfully deployed its canisters of lithium.

Wallops rocket launch

Here are a few images of the trails over the East Coast. They are smaller than the trailed made by last year’s launch, but, “everything worked as planned,” Wallops officials said on the livestream.

rocket red trail image

Photo: ‏@kristynmags

Send your pictures of the rocket to [email protected] or tweet @bi_sci.

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