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  • SoCal Sky Lights: Rocket Launches and Satellites visible from Southern California
    This page is at http www socal skylights org skylights html

    Original URL path: http://www.socal-skylights.org/ (2016-04-29)
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  • SoCal Sky Lights: Rocket Launches and Satellites visible from Southern California
    Brave the crisp mid December early mornings to view cast off debris of a burned out comet Iridium Flares A nifty communications satellite shows off its flash Great for winning bar bets International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Information on viewing the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle when it is in orbit Delta Launch Info about Delta II missions On October 2 1999 a test of a

    Original URL path: http://www.socal-skylights.org/skylights.html (2016-04-29)
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  • SoCal Sky Lights: About Vandenberg Air Force Base
    It was a subtle event from this distance and time of day David Cuatt April 3 2012 Time 4 12PM A Delta 4 with 2 solid rocket boosters lifted a classified payload into a retrograde east to west orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office October 28 2011 Time 2 48 AM Pacific Time A Delta 2 launched a NOAA NASA scientific payload We did get up and saw the launch last night At first it was an orange red light on the horizon looked like it was a boat on the ocean When we realized what it was we looked at it through the binoculars and then we could see it fairly well It got bigger and better as it approached us and got higher in the sky We could distinctly see the burn flames etc so it was pretty neat We are glad we got up and watched it Lucky it was a clear crisp night last night Recently until the last few days we have had a lot of fog Anyhow thanks for the tip Joy Laurie R Solana Beach CA August 11 2011 Time 7 45 AM The Minotaur IV is a decommissioned MX Peacekeeper ICBM that has been modified for use as an orbital in this case suborbital booster by Orbital Sciences Corp It s an all solid rocket vehicle The payload for this flight is a hypersonic test article It will be boosted into the upper atmosphere and released for a test flight followed by a splashdown with no recovery in the Pacific The flight was delayed from 8 10 due to weather conditions June 10 2011 Time 7 20 13 AM Pacific Time A long postponed from 2009 Argentinian satellite was lifted into orbit by a Delta 2 Delayed from June 9 due to a software issue April 14 2011 Time 9 24 PM An Atlas V took a classified payload from the U S National Reconnaissance Office into orbit Postponed from April 12 to allow for an electronics package replacement I got a decent shot from the hills near Murrieta Best regards Adam Murrieta CA March 4 2011 Time 2 09 43 AM A Taurus solid rocket vehicle manufactured by Orbital Sciences launched intended to lift GLORY an atmospheric studies satellite into orbit for NASA along with three small academic payloads Unfortunately the payload fairing failed to separate thereby preventing the payload from achieving orbit February 6 2011 Time 4 26 AM A Minotaur I derived from repurposed Minuteman II ICBM launched a National Reconnaissance Office payload into orbit Delayed from February 5 January 20 2011 Time 1 10 PM A Delta 4 Heavy booster carried a National Reconnaissance Office payload into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base s Space Launch Complex 6 The Delta 4 Heavy is a big machine comparable in payload and size to the Titan 4 It uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as its propellant and oxidizer respectively This results in a relatively dim exhaust flame and a relatively transparent exhaust essentially steam November 5 2010 Time 7 20 03 PM A Delta 2 launched the COSMO SkyMed 4 a European Earth observation satellite Delayed several times due to hardware problems I was able to observe the launch reasonably well from my home in San Diego After initially focusing on what turned out to be an aircraft that had just turned on its landing lights on approach to Lindbergh field I finally located the vehicle climbing on its first stage engines at around 2 minutes 30 seconds into its flight long after solid rocket booster burnout and jettison I was easily able to fillow the vehicle s incandescent exhaust as it accelerated finally climbing into the sun during last 30 45 seconds of the first stage burn Once it got into the light the typical bulbous form of the hyperexpanding exhaust was revealed After first stage burnout I was unable to track the second stage which is not terribly surprising since the second stage engine is much smaller All in all this flight resulted in a much better experience than I was expecting Russ Schnapp San Diego CA September 25 2010 Time 9 41 PM A Minotaur IV launched a surveillance satellite SBSS The Minotaur is constructed largely from Peacekeeper missile hardware all of which have been pulled from active service as a result of arms reduction treaties Peacekeeper could carry up to 10 independently targeted warheads This is an all solid propellant vehicle Launch was delayed several times until a software problem was resolved September 20 2010 Time 9 04 PM An Atlas 5 launched a National Reconnaissance Office payload into orbit Even the clouds covered up the launch although it was broadcast on NASA TV up until shroud jettison I am in South Pasadena Los Angeles area and my 5yr old son and I saw the Atlas V launch tonight We were watching the live webcast of the countdown At around T 5 seconds the video froze and did not resume until T 15 sec We ran outside at that time and observed stars and Jupiter overhead but the western sky was hazy with a marine layer It appeared foggy at the launch site in the video I spotted it as a red dot which started to grow a little tail when it got about 30degs above the horizon The tail was about as big as your fingertip with your arm extended We saw a silver dot trailing away and about 10 sec later we saw the red dot flicker and go out at what I believe was first stage cutoff It was about an hour past his bedtime and he was really tired I think he was both a little excited and a little disappointed Dad is much more excited by tiny dots in the sky Sorry no pictures Cheers Patrick W South Pasadena CA April 22 2010 Time 4 00 PM A Minotaur IV launched a hypersonic research payload HTV 2 into the atmosphere over the Pacific The test was apparently a failure as telemetry was not received from the payload The Minotaur is constructed largely from Peacekeeper missile hardware all of which have been pulled from active service as a result of arms reduction treaties Peacekeeper could carry up to 10 independently targeted warheads This is an all solid propellant vehicle December 14 2009 Time 6 09 33 AM A Delta 2 launched an infrared observatory called WISE From San Diego I was able to see the incandescent exhaust of the solid rocket boosters past my neighbor s trees It was a dim red dot with a faint trail that soon faded as the boosters burned out and the vehicle was hidden by haze and clouds Then around a minute later the vehicle reached sunlight and the exhaust trail bloomed against a dark blue sky The exhaust abruptly ended although I could see a faint white dot continuing to accelerate southwards presumably from the still burning engine I suspect that the vehicle was only briefly in sunlight during the launch Russ Schnapp San Diego CA October 18 2009 Time 9 12 AM An Atlas 5 launched a DMSP weather satellite for the Defense Dept October 8 2009 Time 11 51 29 AM A Delta 2 launced a commercial earth imaging satellite WorldView 2 into orbit May 5 2009 Time 1 24 25 PM A Delta 2 launched a R D satellite into orbit for the Missile Defense Agency Watching from fifth floor of PCC s Building R we saw a faint fast trail through the bright Pasadena haze Hard to see there was some wavy smoke doing a drifting fade away back at the horizon start Thanks Dave C Pasadena CA February 24 2009 Time 1 55 AM A Taurus XL lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at around 1 55 AM Unfortunately a malfunction it appears the payload shroud failed to separate prevented the vehicle from reaching orbit and the Orbiting Carbon Observatory impacted the surface somewhere near Antarctica February 6 2009 Time 2 22 AM A Delta 2 sent a weather satellite into orbit for the U S civilian NOAA agency Delayed after problems with ground equipment on February 4 and 5 Interesting note this satellite NOAA N Prime was damaged in September 2003 when it fell off a cart due to a rather simple and extremely costly human error October 24 2008 Time 7 28 11 PM A Delta 2 launched an Italian payload COSMO SkyMed into orbit for the Italian Space Agency The launch took place 80 minutes after sunset so the exhaust plume wasn t illuminated by the sun until very late in the flight In San Diego I was able to see the exhaust flame as the vehicle was due west and sure enough around 5 minutes after launch I could see the plume for around a minute until staging I saw this from Escondido CA It was spectacular We had perfect visibility with stars at the horizon I saw the vehicle at 19 30 28 No contrail but a terrific flame plume that reminded me of a blowtorch It was only about 10 degrees above the horizon I thought I might see it stage but instead at 19 33 00 the vehicle made it into sunlight and the exhaust lit up I lost it at about that time Verrrry nice and many thanks for the heads up David D Escondido CA September 6 2008 Time 11 51 AM A Delta 2 launched GeoEye 1 a commercial imaging satellite into orbit Delayed from 9 4 08 due to personnel travel difficulties induced by Hurricane Hanna June 20 2008 Time 0 46 25 AM A Delta 2 sent Jason 2 a scientific satellite designed to map the height of the ocean into orbit April 2 2008 Time 1 01 AM A Minuteman III will make a readiness test flight sent a dummy warhead into the central Pacific at Kwajalein Atoll March 13 2008 Time 3 02 AM An Atlas 5 christened a brand new pad with its exhaust as it launched a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office December 8 2007 Time 6 31 37 PM A Delta 2 launched a commercial radar imaging payload COSMO SkyMed 2 into orbit during a 1 second wide window Since launch took place almost 2 hours after sunset there was no twilight effect lighting Rescheduled from December 5 6 and 7 So far I have one report of a sighting from subscriber Leora 160 miles north in Monterey County September 18 2007 Time 11 35 AM A Delta 2 carried a commercial earth imaging satellite WorldView 1 to orbit June 7 2007 Time 7 34 PM Delta climbing away from Vandenberg 2nd photo A Delta 2 placed an Italian radar Earth imaging satellite in orbit Since the launch took place 10 20 minutes before sunset it was sadly invisible from San Diego Well after sunset some whisps of wind blown exhaust trail were visible glowing faintly above the fading twilight Attached are some shots of the Vandenberg rocket launch carrying an Italian satellite in its payload The AIDS LifeCycle ride was camped at River Park in Lompoc and I picked up four people for dinner in Lompoc After dinner we drove out Ocean Avenue to catch the launch The first shot shows the rocket rising to the right of the setting sun The second shows it rising image at left The third shows it nearly overhead The fourth shows the group pointing to the rocket with the contrail visible to the right Anita Lompoc CA April 25 2007 Time 1 26 PM A Pegasus winged booster was launched from Orbital Science Corp s modified L 1011 airliner successfully orbiting a NASA atmospheric research payload Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere AIM March 20 2007 Time 9 27 PM A modified Minuteman II missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in to test radars associated with the National Missile Defense system Because of the launch time and prevailing weather on the California Coast this flight was not viewable outside of the immediate vicinity of VAFB February 7 2007 Time 12 14 AM Flight readiness launch of a Minuteman III As usual this was a suborbital flight tossing a dummy warhead into the Pacific Ocean offshore from the Kwajalein Atoll December 14 2006 Time 1 00 PM A Delta 2 sent a classified payload into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office November 4 2006 Time 5 53 AM A Delta 4 launched a weather satellite into polar orbit for the benefit o the Department of Defense Although the launch took place shortly before sunrise which ought to have enhanced the visibility few people were able to observe the launch due to cloud cover Crystal clear conditions on the Central Coast allowed a spectacular view from my home in Pismo Beach this morning I can still see swirls from the first stage contrail drifting eastward almost an hour after launch The most interesting part of the launch was shortly after second stage separation when a tiny blue cloud formed at the point of separation which quickly grew to a impressive sun lit bright blue cloud about 5 degrees wide Todd Walker Pismo Beach CA July 20 2006 Time 3 14 AM A Minuteman III ICBM was flight tested tossing its inert payload into the ocean near Kwajalein Atoll in the south central Pacific Ocean June 27 2006 Time 8 33 PM The first Delta 4 to fly from Vandenberg orbited a reconnaissance payload This vehicle launched with two strap on solid rocket boosters This vehicle s launch was rescheduled numerous times for various reasons including a problem with cork insulation and a dispute over fuel slosh dynamics during the coast to geosynchronous apogee The launch took place shortly after sunset resulting in a light show that was visible over much of the southwestern U S In Pasadena we hung around in the back yard waiting for the launch Gazed at a beautifully developing sunset while watching for the Delta Quite worth it DeMille quality It burned a golden trail up to about 20 degrees elev then ran straight left from west to south This was one f a s t moving machine Saw nice plume at stage separation burn Residual clouds were a bit understated Thanks Dave Cuatt Pasadena CA June 14 2006 Time 1 22 AM A Minuteman III ICBM was flight tested tossing its inert payload into the ocean near Kwajalein Atoll in the south central Pacific Ocean April 28 2006 Time 3 02 AM A Delta 2 finally launched two NASA weather research payloads CloudSat and CALIPSO Rescheduled from April 21 then April 22 23 25 26 27 okay it only had a 1 second long launch window April 14 2006 Time 6 40 PM A Minotaur booster Minuteman 2 lower stage Pegasus upper stage launched several small satellites to monitor climate change April 7 2006 Time 6 00 AM A Minuteman 3 missile was flight tested tossing an inert warhead into the ocean off Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific Ocean I had to be at work early today and was driving when the launch happened From Culver City the first stage plume looked very large and bright white Very easy to spot The sad thing was my brain hadn t started to function yet and I didn t know about the launch in advance So when I first saw it I thought that it was maybe Venus with some costal fog hazing the view causing it to appear blurry and bloom very very wide By the time my brain reminded me that Venus could not have been in that position It was too late to see anything Kent Culver City CA March 22 2006 Time 6 03 45 AM A Pegasus was dropped from the belly of Orbital Science s modified L 1011 airliner This business jet sized vehicle ignited its solid rocket engine and carried 3 small satellites for NASA February 16 2006 Time 12 01 AM A Minuteman 3 missile was flight tested sending an inert warhead into the ocean off Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific Ocean From Pasadena a backyard skunk nearly cancelled viewing of a punctual launch a warm yellow ball rising in the west moving to the left south then seeming to pause before fading to black Skunk also launched but missed Dave Cuatt Pasadena CA Very nice launch Saw it all the way to Orion s belt M42 in the west Dave Central Valley Crystal clear night as we watched the missile s flame create a beautiful reflection across the ocean The flame turned from bright yellow to red as it crossed beneath Betelgeuse and across the chest of Orion as it faded from view Dead silence was replaced by a loud low rumble that lasted for several minutes Todd and Jer Pismo Heights CA October 19 2005 Time 11 05 AM The last Titan IV in fact the very last Titan launched a classified National Reconnaissance Office payload into orbit As expected I was only able to observe the Titan 4 while the solid rocket boosters were burning A relatively faint exhaust trail appeared from behind a building and as I focused the binoculars on it I could see a faint flame at the top As the vehicle climbed the flame became a little brighter as the exhaust trail spread out due to the decreasing air pressure As soon as the SRBs separated and they got surprisingly bright after separation there was nothing more to see of the core vehicle The SRB s flashed a few times while tumbling and then faded away as they began their descent to a Pacific Ocean impact Goodbye Titan Russ Schnapp San Diego CA Wow This was one day I was actually glad to be a taxpayer My love and I parked at the North end of Union Sugar Road on the bank of

    Original URL path: http://www.socal-skylights.org/sky_vandenberg.html (2016-04-29)
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  • SoCal Sky Lights: Rocket Launches and Satellites visible from Southern California
    You will get no more than one or two such emails per day most days you will receive none I will never spam you or distribute your email address without your explicit permission I promise never to send you email other than that related to SoCal SkyLights You can subscribe or unsubscribe very easily To unsubscribe simply revisit the list control page which is included at the end of every

    Original URL path: http://www.socal-skylights.org/sky_subscribe.html (2016-04-29)
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  • SoCal Sky Lights: Geminids Meteor Shower
    be a factor this year as it will be just a crescent setting shortly after sunset Geminid meteors tend to be pretty bright so they are well worth watching for You can probably expect to start seeing some Geminids as soon as the sky gets dark actually The best time to view most meteor showers is between midnight and dawn Find a place with dark skies and set out a sleeping bag Climb in and watch The meteors will appear anywhere in the sky but their trails will mostly tend to track back to near the constellation Gemini which is high in the sky at midnight And thus derives the name of this shower as is true for all meteor showers To view a meteor shower find yourself a dark location away from lights with a good view of the sky Although the shower radiant Gemini is near the zenith of the sky you will want to view as much of the entire sky as possible The meteors don t usually appear in the radiant itself guide Get a lawn chair and sleeping bag and just space out taking in the night sky as a whole Or you might take

    Original URL path: http://www.socal-skylights.org/sky_geminids.html (2016-04-29)
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  • SoCal Sky Lights: Flashes in the Sky from Iridium Satellites
    Venus ever gets They last for only a few seconds at a time So how do you know when and where an Iridium Flare will happen Well there s an excellent web site called Heavens Above that will happily calculate the Iridium flare schedule for any place on Earth You can go to their site which can also show you when ISS and many other satellites will be overhead or

    Original URL path: http://www.socal-skylights.org/sky_iridium.html (2016-04-29)
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  • SoCal Sky Lights: Space Shuttle and Mir Viewing Opportunities
    of at least one landing opportunity in Florida that morning Given the sound I m fairly well convinced that I ve just heard a re entering Shuttle I pay a quick visit to SpaceFlightNow com and sure enough the Shuttle is on its way to Edwards AFB I quickly tune in NASA TV in time to watch the shuttle making its turn on the HAC I sent out a query to the subscribers list asking who else heard the Shuttle coming in Here are some responses No sonic booms in the San Fernando Valley So Cal however we got to see it fly over about 4 minutes prior to touch down It appeared to be in level flight heading approx 360 degrees Mike San Fernando Valley CA I was out in the front yard here in Hesperia waiting for it and it did not disappoint good loud double boom you could feel in your lungs Dave Hesperia CA Yup I m at Mira Mesa Blvd and 805 There s construction next door and I though a truck hit the building or something dave San Diego CA YEP I HAD HEARD THAT THE SPACE SHUTTLE WAS GOING TO LAND AROUND 12 53 P M AND WAS WATCHING ON A LIVE STREAM FROM A LOCAL TV CHANNEL WHILE AT WORK FUNNY THOUGH AS A LOT OF MY CO WORKERS WERE NOT AWARE THAT THE SPACE SHUTTLE WAS LANDING AT EDWARDS AFB AND THOUGHT IT WAS AN EARTHQUAKE OR SOMETHING I GOT A GOOD LAUGH FIRST AND THEN TOLD THEM IT WAS THE SPACE SHUTTLE COMING IN TO LAND KATHY CORONA CA Yes we did We heard it here in Lake Forest CA Orange County at the same time that we were watching the approach on TV on breaking news on FOX Channel 11 It was so cool Dea and son Matthew age 14 Lake Forest CA The twin booms were NOT heard in Thousand Oaks although a lot of people were outside listening Mark Thousand Oaks CA Yes I did hear it I was having lunch at Montgomery Field but I didn t recognize what it was until I got back to work and read your email Good call Jim San Diego CA We did in Riverside I ran to the TV with the kids and watched the landing Mitch Riverside CA Bummer Nope nothing here in Glendale Brian Glendale CA Of course we did But then again we got a head s up from the news on the radio It shook the roof Mary Lu Diamond Bar CA Even though we are closer to Edwards AFB we didn t hear it in the L A area but then again the flight path was from the south so I didn t think we d hear it If they had missed that window we would have heard it on the next attempt as the path would have been from the west As for passes got a good look at the ISS last night

    Original URL path: http://www.socal-skylights.org/sky_shuttle.html (2016-04-29)
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  • SoCal Sky Lights: Delta 2 Launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base
    of the flight on the solid rocket motors and even in San Diego we should be able to see them for the last 30 45 seconds of their burn For the remainder of the flight the vehicle runs on its liquid fuel engines and the contrail is much more diffuse At four minutes into the flight the first stage drops away and the second stage starts This staging event is

    Original URL path: http://www.socal-skylights.org/sky_delta.html (2016-04-29)
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