Columbia's Last Pass
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On Saturday morning, February 1st, 2003,
shuttle Columbia made the last pass it would
ever make over our area of the Sierra foothills.
A few minutes later, it broke apart over north Texas,
with the loss of its crew of seven.
We videotaped the pass from our front yard, just south of
the southern entrance to Yosemite national park.
Columbia grew brighter as it approached us, as expected.
Then it crossed our meridian and started dimming as it receded from us.
But a few seconds later it flared up much brighter - much like a flashbulb going off.
This flash was brief - only about 1/3 of a second.
We suspect that whatever it was we saw
happened very near the California/Nevada state line.
This animation shows the bright flash/artifact/explosion.