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The Sciences

Rocket launch blows away the sky

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitFebruary 18, 2010 2:00 AM

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Perched on top of an Atlas V rocket, on February 11 the Solar Dynamics Observatory launched into space. About a minute after leaving the Earth, the rocket did two things: it passed the speed of sound, and screamed past a sundog, a rainbow-colored optical effect in the sky caused by ice crystals. And when it did, well, it was incredible. What's below is just about the coolest video I have ever seen. And I mean that seriously. Click the "720" button and pay close attention at the 1:50 mark. You won't miss it, the crowd in the audio will alert you... Wow! I'm quite sure the footage shown here is legit and not a hoax. Several people I know said they saw the same thing, and there are photos of it as well. Those ripples were caused by the shockwave of the rocket going through the cloud, which quickly dispersed. Since the cloud had ice crystals in it, the sundog got literally blown away. I love the digital revolution. There are so many video cameras out there that stuff no one would've believed before are becoming more and more common. Bright meteor fireballs, rocket launches like this, clear footage of flying saucers... oh, wait. Anyway, awesome. If you ever get a chance to watch a rocket launch, take it. You never know what you might see!

Tip o' the nosecone to jhumbug on Twitter.

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