shenzhou 6 rocket (CZ-2F R/B)

From: Stephan Szyman (
Date: Thu Oct 13 2005 - 07:58:23 EDT

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    I just returned from observing shenzhou 6 rocket (CZ-2F R/B.)  quite a 
    I was just hitting send on my previous post (shenzhou 6) when I remembered 
    that the long march vehicle which launched those guys would pass around 1 
    hour after the manned spacecraft.  I quickly went back to chris peat's 
    prolific website and saw that it was due to pass near mirfak (alpha persei) 
    at 11:22:22 UTC or so.  I glanced at the clock and it was 11:17:30 UTC so I 
    got my sandals back on and grabbed the dogs and ran outside into the 
    when I got back there I was a bit disoriented because it was nautical 
    twilight with about 10 minutes remaining until civil twilight;  I finally 
    found perseus and I was just searching around when something fat and bright 
    cleared my roof in the west, immediately catching my peripheral vision.  in 
    this sense it was very similar to the ISS.
    "HOLY COW," I thought,  "is that sucker CRUISIN!"  It was spectacular, 
    tumbling end over end about every 18 seconds or so.  at its max brightness 
    it had only one rival in the sky, mars. way brighter than capella, probably 
    brighter than sirius, and just barely dimmer than mars (which is -1.96 
    today.)  it is noticeably faster than any object I have ever observed, an 
    orangish color similar to mars'.
    I was so taken aback by the sight and speed of the thing that I failed to 
    take any precise timings (not that too many landmarks were still visible 
    along its path,)  I should have at least gotten some when it passed mirfak 
    and between maximae. sorry, everybody.
    when it went into the brighter part of the sky in the east,  it would 
    disappear completely in the murk and then return brilliantly at maximae.  am 
    I ever glad I saw it!
    does anyone have any idea of when this long march booster will decay?
    clear skies!
    stephan szyman
    chicago IL USA
    41.6840N, 87.7000W; 188 msl
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