My ISS/STS-133 observations

From: George Kristiansen (
Date: Tue Mar 08 2011 - 10:56:16 UTC

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    Well, I just thought I'd add my own experiences of the double flyby
    which was witnessed by the US and Europe.
    I noticed that the sky was perfectly clear all through the afternoon,
    and by the time evening came, I was all ready for what was scheduled
    to be a relatively dim (mag. -1) but spectacular double pass. I went
    out to the nearby field at about 19:10, in preparation for the
    apparition of the Shuttle leading the ISS across the sky. There was a
    nice conjunction with the Moon above Jupiter to keep me busy while I
    waited for them to appear, and also as a reference point - the pair
    were scheduled to pass right next to Jupiter. I used this as a
    reference to align my camera (I took some pictures, but haven't
    processed them yet). The scene was just so quiet - the dying evening
    glow providing just enough light for me to see the faint colours of
    the landscape around me. There were no cars going past, and the only
    sound I could hear was the occasional tweet from birds settling down
    for the evening. As I was just standing and listening to this amazing
    ambience in the warm evening, I suddenly saw them appear.
    I could only see one point at first - the station cutting through the
    last glow of the sunset. It gradually climbed higher, and got ever
    brighter as it got closer to me. When the brightening dot climbed to
    the altitude of Jupiter, I couldn't help exclaiming out loud as I saw
    the leading light of Discovery - my first ever sight of a Shuttle
    flying on its own. There was something almost organic about the scene
    - two little points of light distantly synchronised in the most
    beautiful and simple and powerful dance-like chase I have ever seen.
    In a way, I suppose they were living - two little habitats each with
    half a dozen people, separating for the last time. The amazing beauty
    and power of the scene was much more overriding than the slight
    sadness it brought, and I felt so happy to have been able to catch one
    glance of flying alone Discovery in my life - something I was
    beginning to fear I would never see. As they faded one by one into the
    shadow, I knew that what I had seen from this quiet rural field in the
    dying evening light would stay with me for a long time.
    Location: 53N, 0.7W
    Time: approx. 19:22GMT
    I will try and upload the photos I took when I process them tonight -
    they aren't great, but at least you can see them!
    George Kristiansen ( ).
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