SpaceX launch creates mesmerizing clouds over East Coast

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Excitement filled the air at Cape Canaveral, Florida, as four people sat atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket destined for space. The clock hit zero, the engines roared to life and the passengers were in for the ride of their lives.

Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux, Jared Isaacman and Christopher Sembroski lifted off from Florida shortly after 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday on the Inspiration4 mission, the first all-private orbital spaceflight.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with four private citizens onboard, lifts off in this time-exposure photo from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39-A, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The launch was a success with the four crew members making it into space where they plan to orbit the Earth for several days before returning home. This mission is significantly different than those recently by Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, who both only made a brief visit to space without ever orbiting the planet.

Counting this crew of four, along with the seven people on the International Space Station and the three others on the Tiangon Space Station, there are 14 humans in space. This is the highest number of people in space at the same time than at any other point in spaceflight history.

Back on Earth, hundreds of thousands of people viewed the launch online, but people all across the southeastern United States that stepped outside during the launch were treated to an incredible sight.

As the rocket climbed through the atmosphere, it eventually climbed above the Earth's shadow and broke out into the daylight. As a result, the plume of clouds and exhaust from the rocket was illuminated to create a breathtaking spectacle.

"Words cannot describe how beautiful and amazing this launch was in person," Ian Sager wrote on Twitter. "Perfect weather, no clouds, no launch hold/scrub, and a LIT PLOOM!"

The launch and the clouds that it created were spotted as far north as Virginia, although the display wasn't quite as impressive as those closer to Florida.

Some call this phenomenon the ‘jellyfish effect' due to the way that the cloud is shaped like a jellyfish.

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This is not the first time that SpaceX created baffling cloud formations during a rocket launch.

Near the end of 2017, SpaceX launched an uncrewed Falcon 9 rocket from Southern California shortly after sunset that left behind a stunning light show for millions to see.

People all across Los Angeles saw the cloud form and grow in size, leaving some to speculate that it was an alien spaceship rather than a human-created rocket.

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