Thursday, July 16, 2009

The STSS-ATRR rocket

Wisps of thin clouds filled the sky this evening. These killed any chances of seeing the Shuttle STS-127 and its tank 20 minutes after launch, which would enter eclipse at < 10 degrees above the western horizon.

Later that night, around 00:46 local time, I observed the STSS-ATRR rocket (09-023B), now very near decay. Moving from Cassiopeia through Cepheus, Cygnus and into Ophiuchus, it gradually brightened to mag. +2. It was 1.7s late and about 0.09 degree off-track relative to Ted's 09196.16581104 orbit: so close to decay, the orbit is changing very fast.

The wisps of clouds produced a somewhat eerie picture, shown below, with the rocket moving through Cygnus (bright star near the left trail end is Deneb).

(click image to enlarge)

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