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What’s this strange cloud?

“Eerie!” thought Michael Scully in North Carolina on Monday morning, when he caught this image with his iPhone. Turns out it was a rocket launch from Wallops Island of an uncrewed Cygnus cargo ship, due to reach the International Space Station today.

Photo taken Monday, May 21 – 5:20 a.m. – by Michael Scully in North Carolina. Thanks, Michael!

Michael Scully in Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, wasn’t sure what he was seeing in the early morning twilight on May 21, 2018. He wrote:

This was eerie. The “cloud” pattern was the only thing lit up in that part of the sky. If you get a chance and could tell me what this is, I’d be thrilled.

Cool photo, Michael, especially to catch by chance!

It was exhaust from Monday morning’s launch of an Antares rocket, which was boosting an uncrewed Cygnus cargo ship to space. The cargo ship did reach orbit nine minutes after launch at 4:44 a.m. EDT (08:44 UTC) from Pad-0A of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus is carrying supplies to the International Space Station. It’s due to arrive at the space station today (Thursday, May 24, 2018).

Michael’s photo was not the only one we received of Monday’s launch from Wallops:

View larger. | Robert Williams on Wallops Island, Virginia, was prepared. He caught the rocket launch itself on May 21, 2018, at 4:45 a.m. He wrote: “This is comprised of 3 30-second images stacked together, with a little brightness adjustment in Adobe Lightroom. Each image was taken at f/20, ISO 200. Canon 6D, Rokinon 14mm lens.” Thanks, Robert!

Did you see it? Tell us in the comments below. Map of viewing area on the U.S. East Coast for the May 21, 2018, Antares rocket launch. Image via Orbital ATK.

Bottom line: Images of Monday’s launch of an uncrewed Cygnus cargo ship, due to reach the International Space Station on Thursday, May 24.

Deborah Byrd

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