I live in a very cool place that regularly schedules rocket launches over our heads from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Today they launched a very large Delta IV rocket. So I went down to the beach to watch the 1:08 pm launch. At about 1:00 pm cars began to stop and park and people began to gather with me at the beach. We all faced in the same direction and talked about the same thing: the rocket, what time? where would we see it? what was it carrying? and how cool it was that we could all take some time off to watch this.
The little gathering around me was composed to two business-guys in an Escalade and nice suits, an Italian couple in a big BMW, a retired couple walking their old beagle, a young woman in a bumper-stickered VW and a middle aged woman in a very nice pants suit and white blouse.
First fingers pointed in the direction of the contrail, someone heard a sound, then we watched it gain height, and separate from the contrail leaving a bright red light of the rocket capsule. We watched as long as we could. Then it was out of sight, all talk ceased, we turned away from the sky, back to our cars and other lives.