Pegasus launch observed!

Andre Beckus (
Thu, 22 Oct 1998 21:06:41 -0700 (PDT)

  Thanks to everyone who replied about the visibility of the Pegasus
launch.  Well, Jake Rees and I decided to try to observe the launch,
even though it looked unlikely that we would see it.  We went to Jetty
Park about 30 minutes before ignition was to occur.  I had pretty much
given up on the idea of seeing anything.  The wind was VERY heavy
along the coast, making me wonder if the launch would even happen in
the first place.  There seemed to be a lot of cloud cover to the East,
too.  Shortly after 20:02 EDT (too busy scanning horizon to tell
exactly what time), we observed a small red dot that was moving upward
and a little bit to the south.  It only lasted for a couple of
seconds, but for the next minute or so, it continued to appear and
disappear.  This was apparently due to cloud cover.  Eventually it
disappeared completely.  This could have been due to either cloud
cover or first stage burnout.  In any case, we did not see anything
after that.  The amazing thing for me, though, was how high the
Pegasus rocket got above the horizon.  Jake and I aren't very good at
estimating elevation, but we estimated that it was at least 10 or 15
degrees above the horizon when we lost track of it.  It was nothing
spectacular, but I was glad to have been able to see something so
elusive.  Even the person at the gate of Jetty Park didn't know much
about it.  He thought that it had launched the night before.
  By the way, I observed the Atlas IIA launch on Tuesday morning.  I
just observed it here in Orlando.  Nothing spectacular.  Lit up some
clouds nicely, but after the first couple of minutes was almost
totally obscure by clouds.  Jake and I are planning on going over on
Saturday morning to see the Delta II with Deep Space I, and then
STS-95 on Thursday.  Busy couple of weeks.  Will let you know what

- Andre Beckus
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