NASA’s LADEE moon launch lights up the night

LADEE flies off into space with D.C. in the foreground. As seen from near the Netherlands Carillon in Virginia (Ian Livingston)

LADEE flies off into space with the Jefferson Davis Highway and D.C. in the foreground. The larger gap is a period in between stages. (Ian Livingston, CWG)

At 11:27 p.m. Friday night, a five-stage Minotaur V rocket carrying LADEE lifted off from the NASA flight facility on Wallops Island, Va. Before its trip to our lunar neighbor, it put on quite a show across the northeast United States.

As Blaine Friedlander detailed yesterday, “LADEE — or the Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer — will orbit Earth then cruise to the moon, where it will gather data on the lunar atmosphere and to see whether dust is lofted into moon’s sky.”

Conditions were perfect for a launch. Clear skies, cool temps and great visibility.

Kevin Ambrose and I met up at the Marine Corps Memorial after discussing a few options, and we were instantly greeted by no lights on the memorial. After some last minute scrambling, we each decided on different spots close by.

Rocket trail over Washington as seen from near the base of the Netherlands Carillon. (Kevin Ambrose, CWG)

Rocket trail over Washington as seen from near the base of the Netherlands Carillon. (Kevin Ambrose, CWG)

Close-up of the stage break during the launch. (Kevin Ambrose, CWG)

Close-up of the stage break during the launch. (Kevin Ambrose, CWG)

In addition to our shots, we gathered some photos of the launch from around the Mid-Atlantic, via social media (Twitter and Facebook). It was truly an amazing sight for many along the East Coast.

Faifax, Va. -- Paulo Ordoveza brownpau  http://www.flickr.com/photos/brownpau/9688310411/

Rocket over Faifax, Va. by Paulo Ordoveza via Flickr

LADEE launch over Bloomingdale, D.C. by Charlie Loyd via Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/vruba/9691656150/in/pool-capitalweather

LADEE launch over Bloomingdale, D.C. by Charlie Loyd via Flickr

Launch seen from Point Lookout State Park in Md., Andrew Albosta via Flickr.

Launch seen from Point Lookout State Park in Md., Andrew Albosta via Flickr.

Kathi Overton from Arlington Virginia, via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202065128897642&set=o.157306594301935&type=1&theater

Kathi Overton from Arlington Virginia, via Facebook

LADEE heads to space over the Capitol. CWG reader Bill Anderson via e-mail.

LADEE heads to space over the Capitol. CWG reader Bill Anderson via e-mail.

And probably one of the most visually stunning shots of the launch, from the LADEE Flickr group set up by NASA:

Buddy Secor, Assoteague Island, MD via Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/ninja_pix/9691897350/in/pool-ladee

Buddy Secor, Assateague Island, MD via Flickr

VIDEOS


NASAtelevision video of LADEE launch from Wallops Island, Va.


CWG reader Paul Connolly shared his view from Ocean City, Md.


The LADEE Rocket over the NYC Skyline, from pfideo.


LADEE launch, as seen from Alexandria, VA via Joshua Turcotte

LADEE will take about 30 days to reach the moon, before entering a 30-day lunar orbit phase. After that, the scientific operations phase is expected to last about 100 days.

Find out more about LADEE on the NASA web site, and check out the handy infographic with some key details.

Also on Capital Weather Gang

Observe NASA’s LADEE launch tonight at 11:27 p.m.