8:30 p.m. update: This evening’s launch was scrubbed due to a boat in the vicinity of the launch site. It has been rescheduled for 6:22 p.m. Tuesday.

Although the launch postponement was disappointing, sky watchers were still able to enjoy a beautiful sunset followed by an overhead pass of the International Space Station.

Original post, from 11: 55 a.m.

In an extraordinary coincidence, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast residents can view both a rocket launch and flyover of the International Space Station (ISS), within 5 minutes of one another.  Weather conditions should be close to ideal for sky watching with mostly clear skies and light winds.

Rocket launch

The rocket launch is set for 6:45 p.m. from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. Weather permitting, Orbital Sciences Antares rocket will soar through the atmosphere into space. It’s on a mission to resupply cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) on November 2 via its attached Cygnus spacecraft.

From the D.C. area, the rocket will become visible in the southeast sky about 10 degrees above the horizon one to two minutes after launch.  Look for a glowing trail of light that makes an arc in the sky.

On its Web site, Orbital Sciences offers diagrams showing where to look for the rocket launch from various landmarks in the Mid-Atlantic.  Below is the diagram of the view from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial towards the Jefferson Memorial.

Note that even with suitable weather conditions, rocket launches are sometimes scrubbed due to engineering difficulties. You can keep abreast of the launch status by following the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Facebook and Twitter as well as Orbital’s Twitter feed.

If you can’t view the launch in person, it will be shown live on NASA TV.

International Space Station pass

Beginning at 6:49 p.m. – just moments after the Wallops rocket launch – the ISS will become visible on a path almost directly over Washington, D.C.  In Washington, its bright stream of light will first appear in the northwest sky at 6:49 p.m.  By 6:55 p.m., the flyover concludes as the ISS trails off to the southeast.

For any location, you can obtain specific information on the timing and position of the ISS pass at NASA’s Spot the Station Web site.

If you take photos of either the rocket launch or the ISS flyover, please share with us via Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr.