No STS-77 laser today

Kulbinder Kalirai (KulbinderK@sluggo.pcdocs.com)
Fri, 24 May 1996 11:39:29 -0400

This morning of the 24th May, in Tallahassee, FL, USA  (height 0.030 lat
30.4450 lon -84.2817 zone -400) at local time 5:12am, I observed the
space shuttle, STS-77. It came out of the earth's shadow for less than
one minute at around magnitude -0.5 before it rapidly dimmed due to the
decreasing phase. I did not see SFU or any light beam or laser. :-(
 
STS-77   1996 MAY 24 (FRI)   
   Time   Az El  R.A.    Dec   Range SES SEO Phs R Mag   Alt  Lat    Lon
 0508:00 258  0 14h 6m -10  0'  1174 -15 -17 149 * 0.7   178 25.7N
102.2W
 0509:00 262  5 14h14m  -4 50'   919 -11 -17 148 * 0.2   178 27.6N 
98.6W
 0510:00 268 11 14h24m   3 30'   671  -8 -17 145 *-0.5   178 29.5N 
94.8W
 0511:00 281 21 14h35m  19 30'   444  -4 -17 133 *-1.3   178 31.2N 
90.9W
+0512:00 320 35 15h 1m  56 20'   295   0 -17 101 *-1.8   179 32.8N 
86.8W
+0513:00  19 29  1h49m  73 20'   347   4 -17  55 *-0.4   179 34.3N 
82.6W
+0514:00  42 15  2h32m  48 30'   545   8 -16  33 * 1.7   179 35.5N 
78.2W
+0515:00  51  8  2h44m  37  0'   785  11 -16  24 * 3.2   179 36.6N 
73.7W
 0516:00  56  3  2h54m  30 20'  1037  15 -16  19 * 4.3   179 37.5N 
69.1W

This observation was very similar to yesterdays, i.e. similar shuttle
path, similar time, I stood at the same place in my yard, wearing the
same PJ's and used the same binoculars, but no laser. 

My theory (worth at least 2 cents I reckon), is that it was the sun's
reflection off the cargo doors or the aluminum foil inside the cargo
hold which I caught just right to get a very narrow sunbeam being
reflected into the earth's atmosphere. If anyone can prove this theory,
it guess it would be an astronaut looking out of the shuttle's window
just as they came into sunlight.

I heard the shuttle missions have access to email, I would ask one of
the astronauts if anyone knows their email address.
Anyway, let's hope the weather co-operates over the weekend. 

Kulbinder Kalirai.
kkalirai@nettally.com