SZ-5 Sighted at Las Vegas

From: zebra (
Date: Wed Oct 15 2003 - 13:24:18 EDT

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    SZ-5 was sighted from 06:00 upto 06:02:35 of 10/15 in West Las Vegas.  I'm
    totally new to the observation, but this is the third coumtry which ever has
    sent a human into space, I decided to have a try.
    Thanks to Ted and Sven, who gave me detailed observing data on the craft
    over Las Vegas.  I used Ted's two line elements with Satbuster 1.6 and
    simulated severl times on 10/14, but I found the sky map with West/East
    opposite to the actual observing point is annoying.  I also use Starrynight
    to have an actual mapping of the northern sky at that exact passing time
    (13:00 UTC).  Printed the map drawing a passing line with time on it.
    Ajusted my watch to GMT time and went to bed.
    Las Vegas is almost clear everyday, so I needn't worry about weather, but
    the stars were dim.  First I considered a telescope, then I figured my best
    chance was a binocular, which can move fast to survey the area since the
    Ted's elements were estimates and I'm such a novel.
    I got up 05:55 am maybe because I prepared too late (upto 2 am), and reached
    observing point at 05:57(12:57 UTC).  Observing condition pretty bad, I even
    couldn't determine Polaris, most of the stars were hardly sighted by eyes.
    Luckly, my bi is a good one, I soon found the Big Dipper, determined
    Polaris, by the time it was already 06:00.  I was afraid I might missed the
    craft, because that was the exact minute to seconds which Ted's and Sven's
    visible timing, though I have located the paasage.  Even half munutes
    difference in estimates, the observation was doomed.  Just that moment, I
    saw a fast(in my bi) moving star traveling from west to east just to the
    left-down side of Polaris.  The object was relatively bright(yellowish
    white), almost as bright as the Big Dipper, but smaller.  In the bi, it
    looked like as fast as an airplane, but size was small like a star, just a
    moving star. it was going towards East aiming under the handle of the
    Dipper.  I followed it until 06:02:35 when it disappeared in the halo of
    city light (unfortunately, I'm in the Light City).
    What I observed is that, first, SZ-5 was lauched right on time(the Chinese
    confirmed it was 09:00 exact), and Ted/Sven estimates were very precise,
    almost to the seconds, made me such a new horn successful in a not-so-good
    observing condition.(best El about 25 degree).
    Thanks again to Sven and Ted for their personal help.
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