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  Fireworks as seen from space

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Author Topic:   Fireworks as seen from space
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-26-2007 06:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
During the STS-121 crew question and answer session held during their post-flight briefing at Space Center Houston in August 2006, I asked if any of the astronauts had tried to see the Fourth of July fireworks given their launch on the same day. Pilot Mark Kelly explained in response that they hadn't tried to view the fireworks as they were neither high enough nor bright enough to see from orbit.

Kelly's reply was logical of course, but a bit disappointing as I would have hoped that given the size of some of the modern firework displays that at least an attempt would have been made.

Flash forward to earlier this month. On January 8, Suni Williams wrote in her Expedition mission log:

Cool places we have flown over this week... We saw the moon - almost full behind us on New Year’s Eve in the nighttime. Flew between the Tigress and Euphrates to Baghdad. Fireworks in Naples!!!
I'm hoping that she caught the display on video or by camera, but at the least, I'm looking forward to hearing how the fireworks appeared from (way) above.

spacecraft films

Posts: 802
From: Columbus, OH USA
Registered: Jun 2002

posted 01-26-2007 06:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One must think that fireworks would be visible, but the condition and timing might be fairly narrow. Of course, to test this further one could see if the nearly nightly displays in the Orlando area are visible. A regular large display in a known area...

I watched the Epcot display from an aircraft departing one night... it was really cool from that vantage point. I know one must amplify the distance by about 100 times, but it was very prominent at our altitude.

Great thought, though. I wonder what fireworks in space will look like someday (Or whatever celebratory custom will be used in space for such an event). You know they'll have something.


[Edited by spacecraft films (January 26, 2007).]


Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 02-07-2007 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I saw fireworks last August from a Northwest Airlines flight (flying at cruising altitude...roughly 7 miles high. While it was obvious I was seeing a fireworks display, I was a little surprised just how small it appeared from that altitude. I know it wasn't some backyard display either...this was a professional show that went continuously for the entire time I had that city in view (about 15 minutes).

Add another 100+ miles to the altitude and I can see why they might be difficult to see from probably looks like a flickering point of light, changing colors.

All times are CT (US)

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