STS-124 and external tank seen from Edinburgh

From: Alan Pickup (
Date: Sat May 31 2008 - 21:47:59 UTC

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    I have just spotted STS-24 (Discovery) and its separated external tank
    as they crossed low across Edinburgh's brightly-twilit southern sky at
    about 21:22 UTC, some 20 minutes after launch. The Sun was only 4
    degrees below the NW horizon and no stars were visible.
    The two objects were picked up by binoculars while still low in the SW
    and throughout the pass one object remained directly above the other
    with a (very approximate) separation of 0.5 degree. The lower object (I
    suspect the tank) was distinctly orange in hue and, for most of the
    pass, about 1 magnitude fainter than the upper one which may have peaked
    near magnitude -2 (though with no stars for comparison). As they moved
    towards eclipse low in the SE, though, the two became more equal in
    brightness and the lower object may even have become the brighter by
    perhaps 0.3 magnitude.
    According to the Spaceflight Now Mission Status page, there might have
    been a "post-launch dump of residual fuel from Discovery's main
    propulsion system" during the pass. Any plumes of outgassed material
    were probably swamped by the twilight.
    Alan Pickup /
    Edinburgh  /
    Scotland  / COSPAR 2707:  55.8968N   3.1989W   +208m   (WGS84 datum)
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