SpaceX's Predawn Rocket Launch Tomorrow May Be Visible Along US East Coast
SpaceX's predawn launch of a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo ship from Cape Canveral, Florida on Saturday, Jan. 10, may be visible to skywatchers along the U.S. East Coast. Liftoff is at 4:47 a.m. EST, but visibility is dependent on location and weather conditions.
Credit: SpaceX

Hey, space fans! SpaceX is counting down to launch its Dragon spacecraft in the wee hours of Saturday, Jan. 10, and the predawn Falcon 9 rocket liftoff just might be visible to early-bird skywatchers long the U.S. East Coast, weather and local conditions permitting. I've had the luck to see a SpaceX night launch in person, as well as watch from northern New Jersey as rockets launched from Virginia arced across the sky, so I can tell you it's an amazing sigtht to behold, if you can see it.

Here's an afternoon reminder on where to look early Saturday in case you live in a region where you might be able to see the launch: SpaceX plans to launch the Falcon 9/Dragon mission at 4:47 a.m. EST (0947 GMT) from its pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. You can watch the SpaceX launch live online starting at 3:30 a.m. EST (0830 GMT), courtesy of NASA TV. And as our skywatching columnist Joe Rao pointed out earlier this week, there is a chance that skywatchers on the Eastern Seaboard could glimpse at least part of the launch after liftoff. You can see his guide here: How to See the SpaceX Launch from the U.S. East Coast.

According to Rao, Saturday's SpaceX launch will travel nearly parallel to the U.S. East Coast as the Falcon 9 rocket makes its way into orbit. So the bright glow from the rocket's nine Merlin first-stage engines could be visible to observers along the coastline, but the degree of visibility depends on location and local weather conditions. 

According to Rao, the Falcon 9 rocket's glow could be visible to observers anywhere between a few seconds after liftoff to up to 3 minutes into the flight. Here is Rao's guide of when and where to look based on your observing location in order to see the SpaceX.

  • Southeast U.S. coastline: For locations north of Cape Canaveral, Florida, viewers should initially concentrate on the south-southwest horizon. If you are south of the Cape in Florida, look low toward the north-northeast. If you're west of the cape, look low toward the east-northeast. 
  • Mid-Atlantic region: Look to the south about 3 to 6 minutes after liftoff.
  • Northeast: Keep your eyes aimed low toward the south-southeast about 6 to 8 minutes after launch. 

"Depending upon your distance from the coastline, the SpaceX rocket will be relatively low on the horizon — 5 to 15 degrees. (Your clenched fist held at arm's length covers about 10 degrees of sky.)," Rao wrote in his Monday guide. "If you're positioned near the edge of a viewing circle, the rocket will barely come above the horizon and could be obscured by low clouds or haze."

If you live near the Cape Canaveral area, NASA has compiled a list of local launch viewing areas here

Editor's note: If you capture a photo of the SpaceX rocket launch from your location on the U.S. East Coast, let us know. You can send images and comments in to managing editor Tariq Malik at:

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