Learning about space right in our own backyard

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WITN Chief Meteorologist Matt Engelbrecht recently traveled to Wallops Research Facility in Virginia to watch a rocket launch as it was headed to the International Space Station.

It only took 180 seconds to lift the 7,500 pounds of science experiments and supplies into orbit.

Jim Nichols at Wallops says, "A lot of People don't even know that we exist. We've been doing launches since the 60'S. All of my family is in eastern North Carolina. They can see them, especially the night launches, obviously bit more of a spectacle."

We can see the launches in eastern North Carolina, but it doesn't stop there. There's much more to see in the night sky.

Brian Baker at A Time For Science in Grifton says, "Doing star parties. I'm just getting a response and doing some research into the night sky because that's the darkest place on the east coast."

Up and down I-95 the view doesn't get any better than right here in our backyard, and like a mechanic walking you through the inner workings of your engine, we have an expert on hand in Grifton to walk us through the inner workings of our night sky.

Baker says, "if you're in New York City looking up you might see 10 Stars if you're lucky. If you're out in Tyrrell County on a nice clear night you can see like 2,000 stars."

When it comes to eastern North Carolina what's not to get excited about? We have some of the darkest skies on the East Coast, a literal launching pad right in our backyard, not even 200 miles away in Wallops, and access to some of the brightest minds in the field including an astrophysicist.

Oh and not to mention, one of our own, Jacksonville's own Christina Cook is an astronaut on the International Space Station.

So the next time you find yourself gazing into the Heavens above, remember what we have here to truly appreciate what we have there.