From: Ed Cannon (
Date: Tue Mar 12 2002 - 05:00:38 EST

  • Next message: Ed Cannon: "Correction re: Re-entry!"

    Just had the great good fortune to see Space Shuttle Columbia
    re-entering!  The sky was clear and the temperature mild.  
    The shuttle was visible from rising in the west (seen through 
    leafless tree branches) all the way to going behind trees low 
    in the east.  It went two or three degrees above Polaris, so 
    about 32-33 degrees above the horizon at culmination.  I 
    tried to get some times (March 12 UTC):
    9:04:35 -- first sighted low in west 
    9:05:54 -- passed above Polaris
    9:07:30 -- lost in trees low in east
    9:11:47 -- sonic boom (subtle, not very strong)
    I'm always amazed by how the plasma trail maintains its 
    integrity for so long.  This time it first started breaking
    down to the left of Polaris as the shuttle was low in the 
    I tried to pay attention to the shuttle's magnitude, and I
    think it was maybe -3 (?).  The plasma trail is quite 
    distracting, but I think that the shuttle was not as bright 
    as Venus can get.
    I wish more people had the opportunity to see this sight!
    Observed from about a city block SE of my apartment, in the
    neighborhood park -- roughly 30.308N, 97.727W, 150m.
    Ed Cannon - - Austin, Texas, USA
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