We have a chance at seeing the residual effects of a space shot tomorrow night. At the same time, a meteor shower is underway.  Now if the cloud cover gives us the opportunity to see it all. The rocket show could begin around 8 pm EST tomorrow (May 8, 2021). The flight was originally set for this evening.

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Photo: NASA Anticipated viewing regions post-launch.

The space shot involves a NASA rocket. It’s referenced as a “sounding rocket”. That’s a takeoff of the nautical term “to sound” or to take a measurement. In the case of the NASA Black Brant XII, the rocket is designed to address a common but complex question surrounding near-Earth space travel. Different regions of space can be connected by magnetic fields. The issue is determining how energy and momentum are transported through those regions. Without going too deep into the science, the fun part will be the potential view. The rocket will be releasing some chemicals at intervals shortly after blastoff.  The chemical trail will create a colored swath through the sky for up to 30 seconds or so and change color as the seconds tick off.

Specialized cameras and measuring gadgets will be standing by to keep track of everything. As the rocket blasts through the sky, it will create a path of energized electrons. Tracking the path of the energized particles will help scientists get more information on the magnetized regions in near-Earth space.

We just get to "Ooh" and "Aah" at the colors.

What would be cool is if a couple of meteors from the Eta Aquarid shower decided to fall through the atmosphere at the same time. The meteor shower peaked yesterday but we still get a chance to see some for a few days yet. We might not get to see much from either the rocket or the meteor shower. Or maybe a little from one but not the other. Or both could show clearly and we get kind of a once-in-a-lifetime show to talk about for years to come.

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