STS-103 Quick Mag. -3 Glint

Jake Rees (
Mon, 20 Dec 1999 20:28:29 -0800

I attempted to watch HST and STS-103 following behind both culminating
somewhat low in the southern sky.  HST was to culminate at 28 degrees at
18:02 PST Dec. 20 (02:02 UTC Dec. 21) according to the GSOC site.   Somehow,
and I don't understand how, I didn't see it.  Maybe too dim?  I've seen it
many times before so don't understand.  I even scanned around with 7x35
binoculars.  Maybe the prediction was not accurate?  And I was running a
little late to get in position to watch but I thought I was looking soon
enough to see it.  But anyway STS-103 was to culminate at 18:08 PST at 24
degrees according to STS Plus and latest posted TLE at Dave Ransom's
website.  Something did show at the right time which I assume was the Space
Shuttle Discovery on its way to dock with HST.  I'm still no good estimating
magnitudes but it was naked eye visible in very clear but urban light
polluted skies, but not extremely bright, maybe similar to Fomalhaut which
it passed near.

The interesting thing is that somewhere near culmination, it briefly glinted
for perhaps 0.5 to 0.75  sec. to a negative magnitude (maybe -2 or -3).
What could have caused that?  I saw a little NASA-TV today and it looked
like they had the Canada arm deployed.  Is there a reflective surface on it
that might cause such a momentary very bright glint?

-- Jake Rees
    Burbank, California

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