STS-94 Reentry

Robert Reeves (
Thu, 17 Jul 1997 06:56:49 -0500

Greetings sleepless observers,

The first part is a resend of yesterday's message that bounced back to me
for some silly reason..
Did anyone happen to catch the STS-94 pass over Texas at 5:23 AM CDT
Wednesday, April 16?

I watched it pop out of the shadow right on time as it approached the
meridian, brighten to about -2 mag, travel for about 40 degrees, then
vanish! (or at least quickly drop below mag 2 and slightly less)

It was clear, but somewhat hazy here and I had mag 2 skies in the city.
Nothing to brag about, and I assumed STS had passed behind a high cloud that
blended into the urban sky glow.  When the twilight brightened a while ago,
I noticed there was no cloud.  The sky really is clear here.

I have never seen an orbiter dissapear like that.  Granted, it was going
toward sunrise and the phase angle was getting lousy, but I saw STS-94 at
mag -1 at the same phase yesterday.  That puppy is too big to not reflect a
lot of sunlight regardless of what attitude it is in.

Any ideas on the vanishing Shuttle?

Today's message....

Spectacular!  The God's favored us here in San Anmtonio.  Three straight
clear mornings with STS passes and a reentry.  This is very unseasonal
weather (usually clouds up at 1 AM.) but I am not complaining.  STS popped
up over the trees right on time and damn!  It was cooking!  So that's what
Mach 25 looks like.  One thing or another over the past years has prevented
me from seeing a reentry, but eveything fell into place this morning.

A bright orange fireball followed by that really bright luminescent trail
that lasted two minutes under my bright urban sky.  As the trail spread to
an appearance like a fat jet contrail, you could see puffs and knots in it
through binoculars.  I can't get over fast it was moving.  It startled me so
much I was delayed in getting off two pictures, but they should turn out OK.

Nearly 40 years of satellite observing and I finally bagged a reentry!

Robert Reeves                Home page
520 Rittiman Rd.             Email
San Antonio, Texas  78209    Phone     210-828-9036
                             Location 29.484N  98.440W  200 meters