RE: Shenzhou 6

From: Stephan Szyman (
Date: Thu Oct 13 2005 - 07:19:11 EDT

  • Next message: Stephan Szyman: "shenzhou 6 rocket (CZ-2F R/B)"

    I just observed shenzhou 6,  chris peat, good job,  it matched the 
    prediction given on heavens-above PRECISELY.
    I went outside at 09:55 UTC 13 Oct.  I was disappointed to see that in the 
    east all the stars of leo were obscured by a cloud,  only saturn, castor, 
    and pollux were visible at that time.   I drank my coffee and waited.
    my observations were completely naked-eye. light pollution and atmospheric 
    conditions were fairly lousy.
    I began to see regulus at about 10:00 UTC, and soon I could also make out 
    alpha lyncis, ras elased australis, and algieba (epsilon and gamma leonis, 
    at 10:10 UTC the alarm on my trusty robic went off.  I blocked the annoying 
    streetlights with my forearm.   I was able to make out asellus australus 
    (delta cancri, 3.93) just near saturn.
    at 10:14:30 UTC I caught two strobe-like flashes, about 3 seconds apart, 
    maybe from lower in leo, coming from within the murky cloud area (zosma and 
    denebola stayed obscured throughout the event.)  I'm fairly certain those 
    were from an aircraft, but they seemed uncannily bright for aircraft 
    strobes, especially since no other lights could be seen in that area.  I was 
    determined to avoid distractrion and turned my gaze back up to the left of 
    I checked my watch at 10:14:45 UTC.  I kept looking and suddenly there it 
    was, a faint object, a bit dimmer than ras elased australis (epsilon leonis) 
    but definately not so dim as asellus australis (delta cancri) so somewhere 
    between about 3.0 and 3.5.
    I caught sight of it a few seconds after it must have emerged, somehow I was 
    looking in slightly the wrong area of the sky relative to saturn,  I missed 
    probably the first 4 seconds of the visible part of the pass.  it seemed to 
    me to be a bit bluish in color.
    nearest approach to ras elased australis (epsilon leonis) was right on the 
    button at 10:15:50 UTC, also was the nearest approach to algieba (gamma 
    leonis) at 10:16:06 UTC.
    the object must have been brightening as it descended into the clouds, 
    because it was visible  for exacly one more minute,  until 10:17:06 UTC, at 
    which point it would have been midway between chertan (chort/theta leonis) 
    and denebola (beta leonis,) and although shenzhou 6 was still visible,  I 
    couldn't make out zosma (delta leonis, 2.53) so it must have been quite a 
    bit brighter than the latter.
    it felt a bit odd to be watching an object with two men aboard who weren't 
    riding a craft of russian or american origin, a first for me (I saw shenzhou 
    5 rocket from st. louis MO just before it decayed in 2003, but missed seeing 
    the shenzhou 5 spacecraft itself.) as I watched shenzhou 6 disappear, I 
    thought about the two crewmembers aboard. good luck and safe return, fei 
    junlong and nie haisheng,  even some yankees are proud of you guys.
    clear skies!
    stephan szyman
    chicago IL USA
    41.6840N, 87.7000W; 188 msl
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