Cloud research rocket launch scares everyone – as usual!

A series of spooky lights above parts of the northeastern United States Saturday sparked a flurry of phone calls to authorities and television news stations…

CNN affiliate stations from New Jersey to Massachusetts heard from dozens of callers who reported that the lights appeared as a cone shape shining down from the sky.

However, the lights were the result of an experimental rocket launch by NASA from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, a spokesman told CNN.

Keith Koehler said the Black Brant XII Suborbital Sounding Rocket was launched to study the Earth’s highest clouds. The light came from an artificial noctilucent cloud formed by the exhaust particles of the rocket’s fourth stage about 173 miles high…

Normally, noctilucent clouds are not visible to the naked eye and can only be seen when illuminated by sunlight below the horizon. The launch took place at 7:46 p.m. Saturday, just as the sun was setting for the day.

Observation stations on the ground and in satellites will track the artificial noctilucent clouds created by the rocket for months, NASA said.

And we will track the fear and trepidation of ill-educated superstitious people fearful of signs and portents in the heavens.

I think the researchers at the Wallops Facility must run a pool on how many panic-stricken calls come in from across the East Coast when they plan one of these experiments. They should time the next one to coincide with some auspicious Christian date and really scare the crap out of everyone.