Re: Minuteman launch
Fri, 18 Sep 1998 16:17:59 EDT

Randy John wrote:

<< I saw it last night through a 4 inch refractor from my home near
San Francisco.  At one power it was bright orange, but not as
bright as Jupiter, and moving very fast.  It also did not seem
to rise as high as other ICBM tests I have seen.  Was that real
or imaginary?  Could someone comment on this? >>
Hi Randy and All,

I was just writing a reply to someone asking how high it had gotten
from my vantage point and I had added some comments about that
very thing so here it is:

It reached about as high above the western horizon as two hand widths
(little finger to thumb).  I'm guessing that would be something like 12-14
degrees in elevation when it disappeared from my view.

I saw another one I think June 1997 from atop a mountain north of Castaic
but still at least 110 miles away.  It was a Minuteman II (rather than last
night's Minuteman III).  It was an evening twilight launch and was truely
spectacular.  It seemed to have a steeper apparently almost straight up
trajectory and seemed very fast and I remember that it seemed to get 
much higher above the horizon, maybe even 30 degrees, before veering
out over the Pacific (from my perspective).  It pleasantly surprised me
in its impressiveness.

As a matter of fact Brian Webb has a picture of that launch on his page:

Although I just tried loading it up and for some reason the picture did
not load.  Hope he isn't changing it to another one.

-- Jake Rees
   Burbank, California