Re: Saw Mir & STS-86
Sat, 27 Sep 1997 21:33:44 -0400 (EDT)

Philip Chien wrote:
<< If, for some reason, your tracking program shows the shuttle ahead of Mir,
 then either you haven't updated your elements since the most recent shuttle
 burn to raise its orbit up to Mir's altitude or ... >>

Okay, then I'll take your word that Mir came first.  I had updated the
STS elements twice I think and each showed STS coming first.  The
second update showed STS coming first but a little closer in time
to Mir than the first.  So I *assumed* that STS was ahead and was
sort of letting Mir catch up with it.  Maybe the TLE  needed to be updated
even more.  Additionally, the second object appeared noticeably
brighter and more consistently bright across the sky which I thought
was because of the reflectivity of all the Mir solar panels compared
to the more flat reflective properties of the Shuttle.  Philip, thanks
for explaining how it works.  Live and learn!  Anyway, I saw them both!

Craig Cholar sent an e-mail and also thinks that Mir was first but had
a different take on the difference of the two objects.  I'm sure he won't
mind if I quote:

<< I saw the same Mir & Shuttle pass that you reported.  I'm pretty sure
that Mir was first, followed by the shuttle.  That's what three different
prediction programs told me, using the the latest elsets from OIG.  Also,
the trailing object was noticably whiter, while the leading object had
a more yellowish hue.  In any case, it was definitely worth getting
up for! >>

Unrelated to this I drove to VAFB and watched the Delta II/ Iridium
launch at 6:23 PM PDT Friday.  There was a cloud bank above the
launch pad so after lift-off it wasn't but a few sec. before it disappeared
into the clouds but this was still an interesting sight.  Caught a little
glimpse with binoculars through the clouds when it was high in the
sky.  I was about 5 or 6 miles away.

Jake Rees
Burbank, Calif., USA