RE: Shenzhou 6 - preliminary search elements and visibility

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Mon Oct 10 2005 - 21:38:44 EDT

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    Dear J. Zhu,
    > Dear Ted,
    > 	 The recent news is that Shenzhou 6 would be launched
    > on 2005 October 12, at 01:30 UTC. Could you give the 
    > predicting elements for the launch time?
    I could, but I doubt that this and similar reports are correct. I believe that
    Phil Clark's estimate of launch within minutes of 03:00 UTC will prove accurate.
    However, I am watching news reports closely, and am prepared to issue revised
    search elements quickly, if needed.
    Phil observed that Shenzhou 5 landed "within a few minutes of the time of
    sunrise at the Dorbod Xi landing site":
    As Phil points out, on a nominal five day mission, the standard Shenzhou orbit
    will permit at a landing 115h 32m after launch. Assuming launch on Oct 13,
    landing will be on Oct 18. Interpolating the sunrise times that Phil provided,
    reveals sunrise on Oct 18 at Dorbod Xi near 06:30 local time. That is Oct 17,
    22:30 UTC. Subtracting 115h 32m, yields a launch time on Oct 13 at 02:58 UTC,
    which Phil rounded up to 03:00 UTC.
    In late September, there were apparently independent news reports from China,
    giving the same time, which adds to my confidence in Phil's estimate. 
    By the way, Phil used the same strategy in 2003 to successfully predict the
    launch time of Shenzhou 5, which was 9 AM local time = 01:00 UTC:
    > What do you expect for the magnitude of the spaceship?
    When above about 50 deg elevation, and well illuminated, it should reach about
    magnitude 2. Even at 30 deg elevation, it should reach magnitude 4, if well
    illuminated. Accuracy of these estimates is +/- 2 mag.
    > The Beijing Planetarium
    > and Amateur Astronomer magzine (published in Chinese) is 
    > trying to organize some kind of observations of the spaceship 
    > in Beijing and we would also like to collect all the 
    > photographic and video observations of Shenzhou 6 from all 
    > over the world and show these in our exhibition and 
    > magzine... I wish that SeeSat-L friends could also help on this.
    That would be great.
    >      For the case of previous Shenzhou 5, I made some
    > prediction of its only visible pass in Beijing based on your 
    > elements and really saw the pass, and some of my colleagues 
    > took photos and video record of the pass in Xinglong.
    I wish you similar good fortune on this flight.
    Ted Molczan
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