SpaceX rocket launch leaves 'space jellyfish' in its wake

By Zachary Rosenthal,
The view from Jacksonville of the space jellyfish left behind by Friday's SpaceX launch. Photo by Monkeesh/Twitter

SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket before dawn on Friday, carrying 53 new Starlink internet satellites into space.

Early-morning stargazers across the Southeast were able to catch a view of the rocket launch and the stunning, out-of-this-world cloud it left behind.


The rocket successfully lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 5:42 a.m. EDT Friday, leaving behind an illuminated trail that many now refer to as a "space jellyfish."

The seemingly unearthly cloud is a stunning sight for those who see it, with luminous hues of blue and orange trailed by the angelic glow of the sun hitting the rocket exhaust in the predawn hours. As the rocket travels overhead, a glowing cosmic trail is left behind for all who are awake to see it.

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"The mesmerizing, rocket-created clouds cannot be seen during every launch, just those that occur shortly before sunrise and shortly after sunset," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said.

"As the rocket climbs through the Earth's atmosphere, it eventually emerges from Earth's shadow and is illuminated by sunlight," Lada said.


The extraordinary sight is not all that uncommon in Florida and parts of the southeastern U.S. with few clouds in the sky and a predawn launch, a space jellyfish is likely to be seen.

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If you ever happen to be in the area of the Sunshine State during a scheduled predawn rocket launch, be sure to look up.

According to Florida Today, the effect that produces the space jellyfish can, in some instances, last for more than an hour, so there is plenty of time to snap a great photo.

The phenomenon can be seen in other places where rockets launch.

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In December 2017, a space jellyfish appeared in the sky over Southern California after SpaceX launched a rocket after sunset about 130 miles northwest of Downtown Los Angeles.

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