Space Visitors, Again

Issshuttle121906

Issshuttle121906A

As I just wrote to my brother John;

“… I wasn’t so lucky with the pictures last night. It

started clouding up about an hour before sunset, and

the space station and ISS were crossing well to the

north (maximum elevation was about 27 degrees). So it

was doubtful they’d be as bright even if they were

visible. At the scheduled time — the shuttle was

supposed to appear at 6:03, the ISS at 6:04 — I

couldn’t see anything, but I released the shutter

anyway. After about 30 seconds, I could see something

moving dimly above the clouds in the northwest. After

the first 60-second shot, I reaimed the camera further

east, and realized there were two objects moving by; I

had missed the first, the shuttle, but both were

clearly visible as they crossed through the north to

the northeast. I tried another 60-second shot and got

both of them, though they don’t look nearly as bright

as they did just looking at them. Looking at the shots

now, there was so much ambient light that the sky

became very washed out, and a shorter exposure might

have shown them better Something to remember for next

time.

“Still — pretty amazing stuff. I was seeing them about

four hours after they had separated; if you assume

they were exactly a minute apart, that means the

distance between them was just under 300 miles (the

distance they travel in 60 seconds at 17,500 mph).

Looks like it will be too cloudy here to see the

shuttle again before it lands.”

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