Space Shuttle Discovery Observation!

From: Jonathan T Wojack (
Date: Wed Oct 11 2000 - 15:03:50 PDT

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    At ~ 2325 GMT, I sighted the Space Shuttle Discovery 8 minutes into the
    flight from northern Delaware.  My observation stopped before 8:25, 30
    into the flight, because I never saw the engines shut down.  The sight
    was incredible!  As I waited patiently for a hopeful sight of the
    Shuttle, I saw this bright moving star.  "There it is!" I said out loud
    with delight.  In binoculars (7x35's), I could not see the actual Shuttle
    (the local sky was quite dark already).  I saw a solid red flame,
    confirming that it was the Shuttle.  It seemed to flicker (meaning
    detection of movement) just barely.  It briefly passed behind some
    clouds, then re-appeared, only to disappear behind trees again, main
    engines still firing.  I believe that another 10 to 15 seconds of
    observation would have seen MECO and probably the Shuttle would have
    disappeared from my eyes.
    This is my second sight of the Shuttle.  First was on Christmas Day,
    1999, during the HST reservicing mission.  And it was Discovery as well. 
    Just seeing it on TV, and seeing it for yourself is two different things,
    even if all you see is a dot.
    The sight of the Shuttle was incredible, and I cannot explain my thrill
    in words.  It refocused me onto my duties, which makes following the
    space program useful to myself as well.
    I would greatly appreciate it if someone could tell me how far the Space
    Shuttle was from my location at my time of observation.  It is still
    nearly impossible for me to grasp the fact that in only eight minutes, a
    very large object ~ 1,000 km south of me, can parallel my position and
    reach the upper levels of the atmosphere.  Eight minutes!!
    Sorry for the emotional flavor of this e-mail (I perceive that describing
    the emotion of a sight isn't aggreable to all SeeSat-L members), but I
    wanted to express this.  Thank you.
    Jonathan T. Wojack                                    
    39.75 N, 75.33 W
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