Space.com article/Next Shuttle flight

From: Skywayinc@aol.com
Date: Thu Nov 08 2007 - 00:23:59 UTC

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    In a message dated 11/7/2007 2:34:41 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
    Grungefreak@valornet.com writes:
    
    I see that a few Seesat subscribers made  it on space.com.  Congrats!
    
    http://www.space.com/spacewatch/071107-ns-shuttle-flyover.html
    
    Columbia  was mentioned yet again, but at least there was no mention
    of the "7 dead  astronauts"..."7 dead astronauts"..."7 dead  astronauts".
    
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    Columbia comments aside, I just want to thank all  those SeeSat-L members 
    who helped with the preparation of the aforementioned Space.com article. 
    It was very well-received!
    
    Now . . . here  is something for all of you to take note of regarding 
    the next Shuttle  launch (Atlantis/STS-122), that is 
    tentatively scheduled for December 6 at  4:31 p.m. EST.
    
    This is going to be most interesting  because that launch time is 4 minutes
    after local sunset in the New York  metro area.  
    
    Back on September 12, 1991, STS-48  was launched at 7:11 p.m., or just 
    1-minute 
    after local sunset in N. Y.  That was probably the best launch I've  ever 
    seen from the 
    N. Y. area, because the Shuttle and its external tank was illuminated by  
    sunlight.  
    This made the Shuttle appear incredibly bright . . . from Levittown, Long  
    Island (where I was 
    living back then) I estimated the brightness of the "stack" at magnitude -5  
    -- brighter 
    than the planet Venus! 
    
    Moreover . . . instead of  flickering out into invisibility at MECO, what was 
    observed was
    a "puff"  of vapor.  Thereafter, the Shuttle continued to be visible as it 
    sailed off  toward
    the northeast horizon. Moreover, with binoculars, you could actually  see the 
    separation 
    of the whitish orbiter from the dull orange external tank!  A  spectacular 
    sight, indeed!
    
    I would suspect that this  type of display will again be visible next month, 
    but ONLY if
    the Shuttle  gets off on schedule!  If the flight is delayed even by one day 
    (to  December 7),
    then the launch will occur about 24 minutes earlier . . . before  local 
    sunset in N. Y.  
    I can't honestly say whether or not the illumination angle on the vehicle  
    will allow us to still 
    see it -- my gut feeling says yes, but we've never had a mission launch so  
    close to just before 
    sunset here in N. Y., so we really have no precedent for determining what  
    might be seen 
    (as compared to just after sundown with the 1991 flight).  Any more of  a 
    delay would probably 
    result in no visibility at all; the launch would come before 4 p.m. and the  
    sky is pretty bright at 
    that time.
    
    We'll shall see . . . 
    -- joe rao
     
    
    
    
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