Strange contrail

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
Wondering

Strange contrail

Post by Wondering » Sat Dec 25, 2004 2:11 pm

Here in Las Vegas, it was bitterly cold and the wind was blowing quite strongly. Two days ago, while driving home from work at around 5pm, I saw the oddest contrail (?). It was shaped like the path of a sidewinder snake, zigzag back and forth. It was very thin, even thickness, not vapory and with the setting sun, it glowed gold. As I was looking at it, a plane passed by, making a contrail of its own. That one was the typical vapory thick white trail. I waited, watching to see if its trail would become zigzag shaped from the wind. Nope. It stayed straight and then faded away. The other one was still there and remained in the sky for another 3 minutes. This was near a dry lake bed where they do all kinds of fun stuff like radio control airplanes, test speed records for rocket cars, etc. Anyone have any thoughts?

crosscountry
Ensign
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2004 3:24 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Post by crosscountry » Sun Dec 26, 2004 2:36 pm

you didn't mention if there were clouds in the sky.

did you rule out it being a cloud?

Wondering

Rocket?

Post by Wondering » Mon Dec 27, 2004 4:58 am

There were no clouds in the sky. The direction I was facing was to the west. A friend thought maybe it was the contrail of a rocket from Vandenberg Airforce Base (in California). He says that sometimes we can see them all the way here in Vegas. I was actually outside of Vegas, in Boulder City, when I saw this weird contrail.

plusaf

Re: Strange contrail

Post by plusaf » Thu Dec 30, 2004 9:11 pm

Wondering wrote:Here in Las Vegas, it was bitterly cold and the wind was blowing quite strongly. Two days ago, while driving home from work at around 5pm, I saw the oddest contrail (?). It was shaped like the path of a sidewinder snake, zigzag back and forth. It was very thin, even thickness, not vapory and with the setting sun, it glowed gold. As I was looking at it, a plane passed by, making a contrail of its own. That one was the typical vapory thick white trail. I waited, watching to see if its trail would become zigzag shaped from the wind. Nope. It stayed straight and then faded away. The other one was still there and remained in the sky for another 3 minutes. This was near a dry lake bed where they do all kinds of fun stuff like radio control airplanes, test speed records for rocket cars, etc. Anyone have any thoughts?
i've seen photos that looked like that, and they were described as the trails left behind rockets that were fired to very high altitudes. around sunset, while the earth may be dark, sunlight still illuminates high-altitude clouds and trails of rocket exhaust, and for some reason [which i really don't know!] rocket exhausts tend to leave really wiggly :) tracks...
+af