STS-72 seen in darkness

Maley, Paul D. (PMALEY@GP808.jsc.nasa.gov)
Fri, 12 Jan 1996 08:50:40 -0600

This is to report an observation of the STS-72 shuttle vehicle inside the 
shadow of the earth from League City, Texas USA. At 1133GMT January 12 I 
observed the shuttle with a 13cm refractor at 20x at magnitude 7, then video 
taped it passing below Spica at magnitude 6.5. Because the orbit perigee was 
lowered yesterday, the slant range was only 186 statute miles, and its 
orientation was -ZLV (that is, payload bay toward earth). On cable TV we 
have the NASA select channel. From this, I could see that the crew cabin 
lights were on, and it is my suspicion that the cargo bay lights, which have 
no telemetry, were NOT on at the time. According to Mike McCants Quicksat 
program, the shuttle was 134 miles inside the earth's shadow at the time. I 
attempted the same thing on an equally favorable pass at 0958 and had no 
luck.

Paul Maley
(email: pmaley@gp808.jsc.nasa.gov)