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Post Info TOPIC: Pluto Occultation June 2011


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RE: Pluto Occultation June 2011
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Former Guam resident Marita Sablan Beard recently participated in the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission. Beard, who currently teaches high school earth science and physics in San Jose, California, was one of six teachers selected nationwide to be a part of the first team in the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors Program.
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Williams College And Mit Astronomers Observe Pluto And Its Moons

A Williams College team of astronomers, headed by Bryce Babcoc k and Jay Pasachoff, have been in Hawaii, near Honolulu, to observe a rare double-double event about Pluto. On June 23rd, they observed an occultation, a hiding, when Pluto's largest moon, Charon, only 755 miles across, went in front of (occulted) a star, revealing its size accurately as well as the absence of any atmosphere. About 11 minutes later, Pluto went in front of the same star, though the astronomers and their students have to analyse their observations to see if they detected that second event.
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Got a Telescope? Pluto Hunters Need Your Help

We're looking for 11-inch or larger telescopes in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia too. Our host in Cebu City, Christopher Go, knows many of the amateur groups there, and we're making good contacts. Anyone who is interested in helping out can contact me at layoung@boulder.swri.edu.
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PH20110627 Occultation June 27, 2011
2011 June 27 14:18:39 00:00:21 UT



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Pluto update 6/24:

MONITOR PLUTO'S CHANGING ATMOSPHERE: Yes.

MEASURE AN OCCULTATION OF THE SAME STAR BY BOTH PLUTO AND CHARON: Yes.

PROBE THE CENTER OF PLUTO'S OCCULTATION SHADOW: Yes.

MEASURE PLUTO'S ATMOSPHERIC TEMPERATURE AT HIGH RESOLUTION: Yes, for the upper atmosphere. For the lower atmosphere, we're waiting on the Kwajalein reduction.

MEASURE PLUTO'S ATMOSPHERE ON SHORT TIME SCALES: Half-way there!

CHARACTERIZE HAZES: Maybe not. We got visible and infrared light curves at SPM and Hale A'a, but they could be too far from the shadow center to probe hazes. We can try again from Hale A'a on June 27.

MEASURE AN OCCULTATION BY HYDRA: This is the tricky one.

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SOFIA Successfully Observes Challenging Pluto Occultation

Astronomy (SOFIA) observed the dwarf planet Pluto as it passed in front of a distant star. This event, known as an "occultation," allowed scientific analysis of Pluto and its atmosphere by flying SOFIA at the right moment to an exact location where Plutos shadow fell on Earth.
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Confirmation from the AAS Press Office that the mission was a "very successful Pluto-occultation flight aboard NASA's SOFIA".



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Live flight-path of the SOFIA airborne observatory

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NG Field Notes: Chasing Pluto Across the Pacific

Pluto occultation update 6/22 UT: It's less than a day and a half from the first occultation, which means one more practice night before the June 23 events. We're spread across nine time zones, so the practice night is just starting in Mexico, but it's the morning before the practice night in Cebu City. At Hale A'a on the Big Island of Hawaii, Eliot is using three telescopes - a 16-inch, a 24-inch Dobsonian, and 24-inch fixed - using the lighter infrared camera on the Dobsonian and our heavier PHOT camera on the fixed 24-inch. The crew at Nauru is having trouble finding the field with the portable 14-inch telescope. In Cebu City, we're glad to have a whole day to get the balance right before our last chance at a practice night tonight. It's been very cloudy, sometimes rainy, here in the Philippines, and we have not yet put the camera on the telescope at night. If we want to get both Pluto and Charon occultations (which we do) we need to start our run only four minutes after Pluto rises above 10 degrees. Yipes! Those of us who have not yet imaged the field are feeling a little nervous, and those of us who have are feeling pretty good.
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NG Field Notes: Pluto-Chasers Warm Up in Majuro

Update from Majuro 6/22 local time: Jeff Regester arrived yesterday on his way to Kwajalein to observe the stellar occultations. Harold, Jeff, and I set up at sunset yesterday to get some calibration data. In the evening, we saw a beautiful rainbow. Little did we realize the rainbow was our clue that a brief but heavy rain was on its way. We scurried to cover the telescope and equipment with tarps. Once the rain passed, we had partly cloudy skies. We were able to observe the occultation stars at different exposure times to help optimise our data-taking strategy. We will be reducing that data today.
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