Green sky at night, Nasa’s delight
A light show to rival the famous Aurora Borealis will be visible over Bermuda’s skies next week.
But the glow of fluorescent green and purple lights will have no connection to the stunning natural displays often seen in the northern hemisphere.
Bermuda’s version of the light show will be man-made – caused by a rocket launch by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Nasa will be launch the rocket from Virginia next Friday night to conduct a study of space plasmas.
The experiment was designed to study energy flows in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Two barium vapour clouds emitted from the rocket’s payload will generate a magnetic field disturbance which is likely to energise electrons.
The reaction will create a green glow in the sky lasting for up to a minute.
A purple haze expected to last several minutes was predicted to follow.
Nasa said a US aircraft will shadow the rocket to monitor results.
Scientists from the organisation will be in Bermuda to record and analyse information.
Don Hampton of the University of Alaska Fairbanks is on island to assist with the monitoring.
Professor Hampton said Bermuda was the ideal location to witness the show and said people should not be alarmed.
He said: “We don’t like it when there are any surprises in the sky and we don’t want people calling the police asking where the aliens are coming from.”
A Nasa spokesman added that the barium vapour was not harmful to the environment or public health.
He said: “After exposure to sunlight the vapour clouds quickly ionise and take on a violet colour.
“Immediately after release of the vapour, the spherical clouds are a mixture of green and violet, but that phase only lasts about 30 seconds when the un-ionised component of the cloud has diffused away.”
Live coverage of the mission will be on the Wallops IBM video site starts at 7.30pm next Friday.