Fantastic STS99 and External tank sighting !

From: Tristan Cools (
Date: Fri Feb 11 2000 - 11:19:08 PST

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    This evening I was very lucky.  It has been raining the whole week but
    today it was a very clear evening so I had the opportunity to watch a STS99
    with external tank transit at my observing place Ryckevelde.
    Some twenty minutes after launch at 18:02 UTC two bright dots became
    visible low at the horizon near the constellation of Lyra.  Those two dots
    were seperated by approximately 1 degree and the lowest dot had an extinct
    reddish colour which I presume it was the external tank, but in front of
    the external tank there was a cloud of vapour visible.  The Shuttle seemed
    to show some variations but that became steady in the constellation of Draco.
    At 18:04:08s  a large cloud of vapour began to stream out of the external
    tank and reached at least(!) a magnitude of -4 !   The cloud was at least 5
    degrees in diameter and lasted for about 5 to 10 seconds.
    In the constellation of UMA the cloud disappeared en the two dots went into
    the shadow of the Earth.
    I made some photographs of it and hope it will give something.
    This was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen !!!!!!
    Tristan Cools
    Belgian Working Group Satellites(BWGS)
    Damse Vaart: 3.2478E/51.2277N - OBS place 1
    Ryckevelde:  3.2856E/51.2045N - OBS place 2
    Brugge:      3.2166E/51.2104N - OBS place 3(home)
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