Tether still spectacular

Robert Reeves (rreeves@connecti.com)
Mon, 11 Mar 1996 06:40:32 -0600

TSS and its tail made another grand pass over San Antonio, Texas, this AM at
6:13 local time.  It was in moderate twilight, but I could still see
constellations.  I would say the twilight was no more than average light
pollution in this local and that itself was in good check because of another
exceptionally clear and dry morning.

I was not caught flat-footed this time and I am quite certain the TSS itself
at 70 degrees culmination was mag 2.5.  Much brighter than I expected.  I
also downgrade my 3 degree length estimate from yesterday to closer to 2.5
degrees because I found my binoculars were slightly zoomed and not at their
widest field.

Biggest surprise is the tether has swung the other way.  Today it was
clearly trailing the TSS, dangling basically straight about 10 behind the
TSS.  Visually, it was obvious the bottom tip was kinked and in binoculars,
it was definately turned to the north.

As TSS passed nearly overhead, foreshortening let me look up the length of
it and there was a definite "S" bow about 40% up from the bottom.  This is
contrast to yesterday's ruler-straight appearance with a tip condensation.
The tether was still blue-gray and as bright as yesterday.  Even in
twilight, it still had a naked-eye neon glow to it.

I had feared the twilight would make it hard to see, but not so.  I caught
it naked eye low in the west.  I wanted to see if I could catch it just
emerging from the shadow and see if it lit up from top to bottom as it
progressively hit sunlight, but I misguessed its location and it was all lit
up when I first caught it.

This critter is such a delight to watch, its a shame it really represents $1.4
billion on the hoof and down the drain.

Alas, tomorrow's pass is in far too bright twilight to even think of seeing it.

Robert Reeves                rreeves@connecti.com
520 Rittiman Rd.             210-828-9036
San Antonio, Texas  78209