"Clement Drolet" <firstname.lastname@example.org> said: >I've just had the chance to observe a nice Mir/STS-91 passage >Too bad this the end of an era. While this is the last shuttle Mir mission, there are still many opportunities for Soyuz-Mir Progress-Mir pair sightings, especially for those in Europe and Asia. Regretably by the time the spacecraft come over the North America they're usually far enough apart that it isn't as impressive. Still, while it's the end of the shuttle-Mir era, the space station era will hopefully begin in about five months. The FGB is about the size of the Mir core module and will have two extendable solar arrays. Does anybody recall the average visual magnitude for Mir from 1986 until 1987? It should be about as bright. The shuttle will dock the U.S. node, which is a bit smaller than the FGB, a couple of weeks later. A similar departure path will be done after each shuttle undocks from the ISS to return home. Typically a fly-around will be performed if there's enough propellant and the shuttle will depart in to a lower orbit (e.g. the shuttle will be ahead of space station when you see the two together after undocking). The next major component is the Russian Service Module which is about the same size as the FGB. NASA's space station web site http://station.nasa.gov (I think) has some pretty good line art and rendered diagrams showing the size after each component is added. BTW - I find it amusing reading the hype that space station's so large that it will be visible to the naked eye from the ground. I wonder if the P.R. person who wrote that hype realizes how small an object can be in space and still visible to the naked eye under the proper circumstances. OTOH - I've heard (not verified by analysis) that once space station's four solar arrays are installed it will be large enough to be discerned as an "H" shape by the naked eye. It's plausible and I may calculate just how good your eyesight and viewing conditions have to be to make that possible. But in any case we're talking 2003 at the earliest. Philip Chien, KC4YER Earth News world (in)famous writer, science fiction fan, ham radio operator, all-around nice guy, etc.