Posted by: Waring Hills | 6 April 2010

April is the month for Fly-bys! First ISS and then space shuttle Discovery! Blue Angels are next!

Not only are the Blue Angels going to fly over and around the Yorktown at Patriots Point this month…on Monday morning we had an amazing sight viewable from the flight deck of Yorktown.

At 6:05 AM the International Space Station (ISS) appeared low on the horizon at 180 degrees (South) and rose in the sky as it moved towards the northeastern sky, the ISS rose to 28 degrees above the horizon and was visible at magnitude -1.3 for five minutes.

Photo courtesy of NASA

At 6:21 AM a red glow emerged on the southern horizon at 180 degrees again and then two solid red shafts of light were visible as the space shuttle Discovery (STS-131) left Pad 39A over 250 miles south of Mount Pleasant.

The solid rocket boosters were visible for over 2 minutes…

STS-131 launch at 0621, 05 April 2010. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

and then as they dropped away Discovery had rolled to pursue the ISS and paralleled the Carolina coast. The shuttle with its three main engines burning was heading also towards the rising sun (not quite up yet) but the exhaust coming off the three engines transformed Discovery into an early morning comet never seen before in my memory.

Image taken in Florida, but the comet like image top is exactly the image seen in SC.

Another angle showing the comet like image of Discovery and the noctilucent clouds. (Image courtesy of

In the wake of Discover were several noctilucent clouds adding to the amazing sights of the launch.

Noctilucent Cloud after Launch - Courtesy:

It is the most amazing launch I have ever witnessed from the coast of South Carolina.

Image above: Seated are Commander Alan Poindexter (right) and Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. From the left (standing) are Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Naoko Yamazaki and Clayton Anderson. Image credit: NASA

Appropriately for the fly-by of USS Yorktown at Patriots Point…the mission commander for STS-131 is Captain Alan Poindexter, United States Navy, a carrier aviator and F-14 fighter pilot with 450 arrested landings.

Godspeed Discovery!

After this amazing fly-by…I can hardly wait for the arrival of the Blue Angels for the 17/18 April airshow!



  1. I’ve been getting up to watch the ISS fly over here in upstate SC for the last two days. Will this continue to be visible? If so, do you know what times ? I’ve asked my meteorologist on facebook, but can’t get an answer.


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