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Occultations 2008 April 13, Northern Virginia Astronomy Club meeting David W. Dunham, IOTA Adopted from a similar talk given at the 2007 Virginia Association.

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Presentation on theme: "Occultations 2008 April 13, Northern Virginia Astronomy Club meeting David W. Dunham, IOTA Adopted from a similar talk given at the 2007 Virginia Association."— Presentation transcript:

1 Occultations 2008 April 13, Northern Virginia Astronomy Club meeting David W. Dunham, IOTA Adopted from a similar talk given at the 2007 Virginia Association of Astronomical Societies, Crockett Park, 2007 Oct. 6

2 Types of High-Speed Celestial Phenomena Total lunar occultations Lunar grazing occultations Planetary occultations Asteroidal occultations Occultations by comets, natural satellites, and trans-Neptunian objects Lunar meteor impacts


4 IOTA = International Occultation Timing Association Occult – Latin for to cover – one astronomical body by another Lunar occultations of stars are most common Timings used to be used to determine longitude and the lunar orbit (now by laser ranging) Then they were used to refine astrometric data until Hipparcos data did most of that job better Now timings used to map lunar profile, useful for solar eclipse analysis & possible polar ice deposits (theres new interest in grazes to refine the polar region data of lunar digital elevation models that will be used for planning observations by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and other lunar missions that will be launched in the next few years) Many close double stars discovered during occultations; some stellar angular diameters measured

5 Lunar Profile from Graze of delta Cancri – 1981 May 9-10 Circled dots are Watts predicted limb corrections

6 Grazing Occultation Videos Graze, 5.7-mag. Arietis, Moon 10%-, Hockley, Texas, 2007 June 12 – c:\avi07626\MuArietis_N station.avi Graze, 2.5-mag. close double star Scorpii, 8%+, Rockaway Beach, New York City, 2003 Dec. 21 – c:\avi07603\DeltaSco122103.avi Graze, 1.0-mag. Spica, 37%-, w. of Delta, Utah, 2005 Dec. 25 – c:\avi07603\Spica122505seq2.avi (8 in. SCT & PC164C) and c:\avi07603\Spica_50mm122505_3.avi c:\graze\muari612\Bob Sandy u Ari 070612\Bob..avi

7 Occultations of Stars by Asteroids Difficult to predict; 1 st seen in Sweden in 1958 As orbits & astrometric techniques improved, more observed in mid to late 1970s Predictions considerably more accurate in 1997 with release of Hipparcos space astrometry data Observations determine the sizes, shapes, satellites, and accurate positions of the asteroids Accurate orbits allow mass determinations from measuring perturbations of the orbits Very close double stars and stellar angular diameters resolved Geometry shown in next figure More distant objects (Trojans, Centaurs, TNOs) harder to predict but more valuable


9 Asteroidal Occultation Videos Occultation of Regulus by (166) Rhodope, Montestirio, Spain, 2005 October 19 with 50mm telephoto lens – c:\avi\mp166reg.avi Occultation of 9.5-mag. Star by Alstede, Oraville, MD, 2005 November 26 with 8-in. SCT & PC164C & f/3.3 focal reducer Grazing occultation of 6.7-mag. Star by Thusnelda, Runyon, FL 2007 Dec. 18 with 4 Meade & Collins I3 image intensifier – c:\asteroid\20071221\7FTALR41.asf Later – Dike events, c:\avi\mp99xxx.avi

10 1999 Leonids Lunar Impacts recorded Nov. 18 with 5 telescope at Mt. Airy, MD

11 Leonid Lunar Impact Recorded 2001 Nov. 18, 23:19:15 UT, Laurel, MD confirmed by Tony Cook at Arlington, VA and Roger Venable, Augusta, GA

12 Methods of Observing High-Speed Celestial Phenomena All methods need UTC time base (from VNG before shutdown, WWVH, WWVB, GPS, etc.) Visual, eye-and-ear Visual, stopwatch (with assistants for multiple events) Visual with tape recorder Video, least expensive system Video, airplane transport High-speed photoelectric systems CCD systems (drift scan method) Remote sites (record more chords)

13 Visual Observation Note on telescope box, WWV receiver (Timekube), GPS receiver, eyepiece, tape recorder, cell phone

14 Items for video observation PC164C camera, $130, PA3 microphone & tab adaptor 12-volt battery & video connector 1.25 to C – adaptor, $35, Adirondack video RCA cable, Radio Shack For SCTs, recommend Meade f/3.3 focal reducing lens Input-capable camcorder or portable 9-in. TV/VCR combo unit (Sylvania unit on for under $100 US) Shortwave radio, WWV at 5 & 10 mHrtz, Radio Shack GPS video time inserter (Kiwi has best error checking) In USA, Europe, & Japan, GPS time can be checked with clocks that set themselves with long-wave time signal (WWVB in USA, DCF77 in Europe)

15 The New Sensitive Cameras The Watec 902H camera is over 4 years old, costs about $300, and has been discussed at ESOP by A. Elliott and E. Bredner. It is excellent, seeing more than you can with an eyepiece, & is a little noisy. The PC164C, from since 2001 Dec., has the same CCD chip as the Watec but 1/3 rd inch rather than ½ inch; it is almost as sensitive with a 2/3rds smaller field, but at $130, it is less than half the price. It seems to be a little less noisy than the A small adapter tube from Adirondack Video for $35 screws into these cameras (C-mount) so they can be used with any 1.25-in. eyepiece holder, only about 1 inch long, the PC164C is 2 inches long and light. I believe there is a PAL version of the PC164C, but if it is hard to get, a similar camera for a similar price, CCTV Cameras Model 2006X costs 69 pounds, with the same CCD chip as the PC164C. This British camera is PAL; see These cameras allow accurate timing of fainter star lunar grazes and asteroidal occultations, the latter especially important since visual timings of them have larger errors; there are more opportunities! Focal reducing lenses, esp. f/3.3 Meade, give much larger FOV.

16 Cheap Video System PC-23C, RCA TV/VCR combo, small 12- volt battery, optional f/6.3 focal reducer

17 Compact Video System Watec 902h, Meade f/3.3 focal reducing lens, small 12-volt battery (not shown), camcorder

18 Air carry-on system (R. Nugent)

19 Robust GPS video time insertion using the 1PPS signal from a Garmin 18 LVC GPS receiver

20 Station B, Sony Digital Camcorder No Telescope, just an undriven good camcorder! I set the Moon just outside the field, above and left, 8 min. before the graze. This station had 5 Ds and 5 Rs, more than any other; although it had less than 1000 th the aperture of the 1m telescope on Hokkaido, it was more successful!

21 Orion 8x50 finder scope video system By Scott Degenhardt

22 The Pleiades recorded with the 8x50 finder system Using PC164C camera and Mogg focal reducer, by Scott Degenhardt

23 Maps for the grazing occultation of Arietis on 2007 June 12 Showing locations of the expeditions, and of the observers at the expedition near Hockley, Texas

24 Path across Texas; total occultation is south of path Our expedition Rick Frankenberger

25 Path near Waller & Hockley, Texas (US 290 area) Hockley A meet Offsets are -0.7 and -1.7 Area shown in detail in next slide

26 Details of Hegar Rd./Imhof Rd. sites used n. of Hockley, Texas met R. Sandy R. Nugent P. Maley Dunham N. remote/Cudnik D. Dunham visual D. Clark (2) D. Stockbauer D. Dunham S. remote


28 Light curve from Bob Sandys video recording of the 2007 June 12 th grazing occultation of Arietis

29 Reduction Profile of Grazing Occultation of the Double Star Arietis (ZC 399) observed in Texas and Louisiana, 2007 June 12

30 2007 Oct. 17 graze of ZC 2702



33 Remote Stations for Asteroidal Occultations Separation should be many km, much larger than for grazes, so tracking times & errors are too large Unguided is possible since the prediction times are accurate enough, to less that 1 min. = ¼ Point telescope beforehand to same altitude and azimuth that the target star will have at event time and keep it fixed in that direction Plot line of target stars declination on a detailed star atlas; I use the Millennium Atlas From the RA difference and event time for the area of observation, calculate times along the declination line Adjust the above for sidereal rate that is faster than solar rate, add 10 seconds for each hour before the event Can usually find guide stars that are easier to find than the target Find a safe but accessible place for both the attended & remote scopes Separation distance limited by travel time & total tape record time Roger Venable uses VCRs with timed starts, allows larger separation Better to have remote sites attended for uncovering telescope (dew prevention) and starting equipment later (allows larger separations), and security

34 Finder chart for occultation of 10.3-mag. star by (1685) Toro on 2004 August 10

35 Finder chart for remote station for occultation by (1685) Toro on 2004 August 10

36 Please do not disturb - Precisely Pointed Automatic Astronomical Station to Record the eclipse of the star TYC 0483-01460-1 by the asteroid 491 Carina at 4:28 am PDT this morning If you have any questions or concerns, call my cell phone, 301-526-5590, Im nearby David Dunham, International Occultation Timing Assoc.

37 Successful Remote + Attended Positive Observations from 2 or more stations 2001 Sept. 7, 9 Metis, northern California, D. Dunham 2002 April 21, Oriola, Washington, S. Preston 2003 Jan. 17, Bathilde, Georgia, R. Venable 2004 July 1, Nanon, s. Calif., D. Dunham, but D. Stockbauer was at remote site, turned on recorder without changing pointing 2004 Oct. 6, Ute, North Carolina, D. Dunham 2004 Oct. 29, Flora, New Mexico, D. Dunham 2005 Mar. 12, Bathseba, Georgia, R. Venable 2005 May 13, Dufour, New South Wales (AU), D. Gault (home remote & mobile) 2005 Dec. 1, Laurentia, Georgia, R. Venable 2005 Dec. 1, Dike, Maryland & Virginia, D. Dunham (3 positives, star close double) 2005 Dec. 3, Europa, California, D. Dunham 2006 Jan. 28, Veritas, North Carolina, D. Dunham 2006 Feb. 24, Turandot, Indiana, D. Dunham 2006 Feb. 26, Abnoba, Florida, R. Venable 2006 June 12, Pallas, Georgia, R. Venable (4 positives! Widest separation) 2007 Jan. 10, Nysa, Georgia, R. Venable 2007 Feb. 21, Thisbe, Florida, D. Dunham 2007 Feb. 28, Nemausa, California, D. Dunham 2007 Apr. 13, Fortuna, Virginia and N. Carolina, D. Dunham (2 +, 1 miss, my widest separation) 2007 Apr. 22, Dike, Florida, R. Venable 2007 May 24, Papagena, Maryland and Pennsylvania, D. Dunham (3 positives) 2007 Sept. 11, Senta, New South Wales (AU), D. Gault 2007 Nov. 20, Amalia, Georgia, R. Venable 2007 Dec. 18, Thusnelda, Florida, D. Dunham 2008 Jan. 14, Sicilia, Alabama, R. Venable (star close double) 2008 Feb. 10, Dynamene, North Carolina, R. Venable Many other cases where 2 stations were run and 1 had an occn & the other a miss, especially by Roger Venable; example was my observation of Rhodope occulting Regulus on 2005 October 19






43 The video files are In c:\avi\mp99*.avi




47 Klotilde occultation

48 May 8 th graze

49 May 12th graze

50 Oct. 6th graze

51 For More Information about IOTA and observing occultations: - my web site; /iotaindx.htm for items of recent interest; /exped.htm for Mid-Atlantic occultations Updates by e-mail – – the main IOTA web site - asteroidal occultation updates - asteroidal occn maps, station & star lists - Results of asteroidal occn observations, etc. – Kiwi video time inserter

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