shuttle sighting

Andre Beckus (
Tue, 19 Aug 1997 08:00:34 -0500

  I live in St. Petersburg, and I went out on my roof in hopes of seeing

the shuttle pass as it headed for KSC to land.  I wasn't very optimistic

about actually seeing it though, since I wasn't sure if it would be high

enough above the horizon or if it would be large enough to see.  To my
surprise, at about 11:00 UT, a bright fast moving "star" appeared to the

south heading north-east.  It was moving much faster than any ordinary
plane.  It was at about a 40 degree elevation (I'm not very good with
estimating elevation, though, so don't take this too seriously).  I was
surprised at how high above the horizon it was. It was almost like
looking at a satellite in orbit, except it was very bright and there
were no stars out.  The sun was coming up in the east, so I guess it
caught the shuttle and made it easy to see.  I looked at it through my
binoculars, and I was able to make out a long cylinder with a point (the

body).  The body was the only thing that I could distinctly see and make

out, but I did see things attached to it.  As I watched it in the
binoculars, it seemed to roll a little bit.  At one point, I had taken
my eyes away too look at it naked eye.  It was small, and I couldn't
make out anything distinctly.  I was trying to find it again in my
binoculars, since I thought maybe I could make out more detail as it
descended, but of course, I had trouble finding it again.  All of the
sudden it was gone.  I guess it was getting to far away, and the sun
wasn't hitting it at the right angle.  I'm not sure what time it
disappeared.  At about 11:02 I heard a loud boom followed immediately
after by a smaller one.  I have never consciously heard a sonic boom
before, though.  However this sounded like a good enough boom for me.
It was fairly loud and scared all the birds out of the trees.  I am
assuming that this was the sonic boom.
    Well, that ends my story.  I was very excited to see it, especially
since I didn't think that I would and since I saw it as it landed.

Happy satellite hunting,
Andre "Muad'Dib" Beckus