The Sciences

Constellation Urion

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitSep 10, 2009 5:21 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

A lot of people sent me notes via email and Twitter saying they were out watching the Shuttle and the ISS pass by in the sky last night when Discovery did something very odd and disturbing: there was a flash and then an expanding halo of light around the Shuttle. My first thought when I read this was that it was an orbital maneuver -- a rocket firing -- or maybe a meteor coincidentally near the same spot in the sky, but it turns out to be neither: it was a waste liquid dump, when the astronauts empty waste tanks before landing the Orbiter. has the details, including a very cool picture. I was out last night twice to see Discovery and the ISS, but didn't see the Orbiter either time (I think the predictions I was using were off due to the imminent landing), so I missed the show. Oh well. I imagine more pictures will turn up pretty soon, though, so keep your eyes open. Discovery has a landing opportunity at 19:05 Eastern time (23:05 GMT) today -- they'll make the de-orbit burn at 17:59 if the weather holds up -- and then another opportunity about 90 minutes later at 20:42 (00:42 GMT) if needed. As usual, I'll be tweeting it as it happens.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2022 Kalmbach Media Co.