“Nuclear Blast Tonight May Be Dazzling; Good View Likely”.

Sounds like something from a dark, science fictive Kurt Vonnegut novel, doesn’t it? Hawaiian natives and tourists alike lining rooftops, mixing booze to imbibe, excitedly awaiting the most intense fireworks show they’ll ever see — i.e. the United States military detonating hydrogen bombs (nuclear explosives) in the night sky.

But this isn’t just some disturbing dream sequence, or a figment of the imagination, no. No, no. It actually happened.

In the summer of 1962.

This from Open Culture:

… during the height of the Cold War, the United States launched nuclear weapons (bigger than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) into space and detonated them. Ostensibly, the goal was to see what these high altitude nuclear blasts might do to the Earth’s magnetic field.

The explosions took place some 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean. And, as the NPR video [below] describes it, folks living in the Pacific watched the light show while gathered on rooftops and blithely sipping drinks.

Here’s more footage of the unimaginable event — H-bombs lit like simple Roman candles: