Watching NASA Launch Rockets During Monday’s Solar Eclipse

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Witnessing a sounding rocket launching during a total solar eclipse may appear to be a cause for concern, but rest assured, it is part of a scientific mission called APEP aimed at gathering atmospheric measurements during this unique event. The eclipse offers a rare opportunity to observe changes in Earth’s upper atmosphere as sunlight and temperature decrease.

While NASA will not be sending rockets into the moon’s darkest shadow, the experiments will focus on the outer penumbra. Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, where the rockets will launch from, is not within the path of totality, which spans across parts of Mexico, 15 U.S. states, and Canada. At its peak, Wallops Island will experience about 81% coverage by the moon.

If you are interested in watching the rocket launches, NASA will be live streaming the event on their YouTube channel starting at 2:30 p.m. EDT on April 8th. The partial solar eclipse at Wallops is scheduled between 2:06 p.m. EDT and 4:33 p.m. EDT, with the peak expected at 3:33 p.m. EDT. The launch window for the mission is set for 2:40 p.m. EDT to 4:05 p.m. EDT, with the rockets launching approximately 45 minutes apart.

Led by Dr. Aroh Barjatya from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the APEP mission aims to provide valuable insight into the effects of solar eclipses on Earth’s atmosphere. For those interested in watching NASA’s live coverage of the eclipse, there will be a separate livestream from various locations along the path of totality. Stay tuned for the latest updates on the total solar eclipse and enjoy the celestial event with clear skies and open eyes.

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