Re: Shuttle/ET Moon Transit

Date: Thu Jul 09 2009 - 20:38:50 UTC

  • Next message: "Re: Shuttle/ET Moon Transit"

    In a message dated 7/9/2009 3:44:40  P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
    With the  MECO state vector now published by JSC for a shuttle launch at 
    23:39:35 UTC,  11-JUL-09 some lucky people in Ireland, Southern England, 
    Central and  Southeast Europe might be able to see a transit of the shuttle 
    and/or the  External Tank in front of the Moon shortly after midnight UTC, 
    Too bad they don't launch a day earlier. This would have seen the  groundt
    of the Moon transit pass very close to my place. Now it's 60 km  south from 
    here. I might try a moonlit pass observation  though.
    Here  in the NYC area, the Sun will stand 6-degrees above the 
    west-northwest horizon  (Az. 294-degrees) at 7:48 p.m. near the time of MECO.  Just prior 
    to this  moment, the Shuttle will be diametrically opposite to the Sun in 
    the sky at Az.  114-degrees (east-southeast) and at an altitude also roughly 
    So the question here is, could the Shuttle orbiter and the External Tank  
    become bright enough to be glimpsed in the daytime sky?  
    Back on  September 12, 1991,  Shuttle Discovery (STS-48) was launched at 
    7:11 p.m.  EDT, or one minute after sunset for NYC.  At 7:19 p.m., near the 
    time of  MECO, the Shuttle/External Tank combo was clearly visible, racing 
    rapidly to the  east-northeast.  The Sun was 2.8-degrees below the horizon.  I  
    estimated the brightness of the Shuttle conservatively at magnitude -5.   
    MECO was accompanied by a puff of vapor, and some seconds later, with 7 X 35  
    binoculars, I could see two separate objects . . . Discovery having just  
    separated from the External Tank.  That still remains the best Shuttle  
    launch that I've seen from NYC; no other launch since then has occurred in a  
    twilight sky locally, with sunlight illuminating the Shuttle as it was just  
    reaching orbit.
    It will be interesting to see if Endeavour can be  glimpsed here on 
    Saturday.  Then again, it could be a moot point: The local  weather forecast is for 
    afternoon and evening scattered thunderstorms.
    --  joe rao  
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