Re: Minuteman launch

Richard Clark (
Fri, 18 Sep 1998 17:09:35 -0400 (EDT)

That June 97 launch was seen as far east as Tucson. Unfortunately, I was
not one of the witnesses but lots of UFO fanatics *did* see it. From some
pictures on the news I would guess that it got at least 15 deg above the

Most orbital launches barely get above the horizon. A Delta launch (5
Iridiums) in December may have reached 5 deg. I did see that one and it
was incredible. The plume may have been 2 deg wide just behind the rocket
and very brightly backlit in an otherwise dark sky (45+ minutes after
sunset I believe) and remained visible for at least 15 minutes. It also
caused lots of calls to tv and police.

I was never able to see a nightime launch from just the light emitted
by the hot exhaust.

Richard Clark

On Fri, 18 Sep 1998 wrote:
> 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