Re: STS-128 and ET seen with naked eye

From: Gerhard HOLTKAMP (
Date: Sat Aug 29 2009 - 11:43:33 UTC

  • Next message: Peter Wakelin: "SATOBS 2009 August 28-29"

    On Saturday 29 August 2009 07:18, Patrick Schmeer wrote:
    > In partly cloudy skies with the sun just 4 degrees
    > below horizon Space Shuttle Discovery and the
    > external tank were beautifully seen with the naked
    > eye - much easier than expected. The tumbling
    > orange tank was occasionally brighter than the
    > shuttle.
    being a little further to the East the sun was less than 3 degrees below the 
    horizon here and clear skies but with probably mag -4 for both the shuttle 
    and the ET they were easy naked eye objects. I also found the orange tank to 
    be slighty brighter than the shuttle for part of the time while on earlier 
    passes the ET was usually less bright. 
    At first the ET brightness stayed fairly constant but at 4:21:52 UTC, 
    29-AUG-09, at SSW, 41 deg elevation the brightness of the tank dropped very 
    suddenly below (naked eye) visibility within two or three seconds. On earlier 
    passes the brightness of the ET used to vary more smoothly. I have never 
    noticed this sudden change before.
    This is one of the observations where you like to press a REWIND button to see 
    it all over again! Not a bad way to start Saturday morning.
    There seems to be a recurring pattern of shuttle / ET visibility in Europe 
    happening during the final three days of the shuttle launch window. NASA 
    usually complies with finding ways to postpone the launch long enough for us 
    to see it! We are also well placed over the next two days to see the aproach 
    for docking. 
    Gerhard HOLTKAMP
    Darmstadt, Germany
    49.8822N, 8.6558E
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