NASA Rocket Experiment Sends "Strange Lights" Into Sky

Calls about the Va. launch came from as far away as Boston

By Asha Beh
|  Sunday, Sep 20, 2009  |  Updated 11:16 AM EDT
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NASA Rocket Experiment Sends "Strange Lights" Into Sky

We have no idea what Saturday night's sky looked like, but this galaxy cluster sure looks like a bunch of strange lights to us.

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"Did anyone see the very bright light in the southeast sky around 7:30 p.m. [Saturday], Sept. 19 that looked like a spotlight and then faded quickly out? We first thought it was the moon going behind a cloud, but realized there [was] no moon out..."

Well, Loren in Rockville, that was actually a rocket you saw. Launched in Virginia by NASA as part of an experiment. And, according to the AP, the blast may have caused dozens of people to report seeing strange lights in the sky.

The space agency said it launched the Black Brant XII on Saturday evening to gather data on the highest clouds in the
Earth's atmosphere. About the time of the launch, dozens of people in the Northeast started calling -- or, in Loren's case, e-mailing -- local television stations to report seeing odd lights in the sky.

The calls came from as far away as Boston, which is about 380 miles northeast of the launch site.

The rocket is designed to create an artificial cloud. NASA hopes the experiment will provide information on the formation and
properties of noctilucent clouds, which occur at high altitudes.
 

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