TSS report from N. Florida Mar /12/ 96

Stephen Thompson (SThompson@esiusa.com)
Tue, 12 Mar 96 09:31:00 PST

Very nice pass this AM from Tallahassee FL  (30.5N,84W) The emergence from 
shadow was gradual enough to be seen as top to bottom, but not as striking 
as I had expected.  The bottom showed a bright spot a magnitude or more 
fainter than the satellite at the top.  This spot was not visible during 
last Friday morning's pass.  The tether was quite straight overall but the 
bottom seems to be leading slightly and the top trailing slightly producing 
a very slight sigmoid.

Question: If the tether does not lie along a line that passes through the 
center of the earth, how would you know?  At what point during a pass would 
you expect it to be perpendicular to the horizon?  It appeared more or less 
that way near the beginning and ending a pass but that does not address a 
possible cant in the plane of the orbit.

A friend here in town, Fred Schmidt made the following report this AM:
"Gee, I was up, out, and watching and didn't see a thing -- SURE!  What an 
unmistakable object.  I had it appear at approximately 5:54:44 as predicted 
by my trusty little STSPLUS (actually it was a tiny bit late -- about 15 
seconds).  To me, it looked straight as an arrow, with just a slight (and I 
mean slight) hint of a tangle at what I assume was the "shuttle" end.  Other 
than that, it was a straight line to the satellite pinhead still attached at 
the other end.  I would assume we will begin to see some distortion of the 
line prior to reentry, so maybe this thing is up there for a while?  Could 
be the distortions will only occur in the last few days though, I guess. 
 Assuming the tether has some vertical orientation to the earth's surface, 
can you imagine what it would look like if it were parallel to the surface?"