Northern Recon Workshop

D7K_7138The Northern Recon Workshop was held in Pasco, Washington April 16-19 and was a great success. John Keller and Marc Buie did a wonderful job of organizing the event and all new northern teams went home with a working knowledge of how to use the equipment to participate in upcoming occultation campaigns.

Southern RECON Training Workshop in Kingman

The RECON Project reached a significant milestone this past week. Through a highly successful Southern RECON Training Workshop, sixty-five enthusiastic and engaged educators and amateur astronomers participated in an intensive four-day training workshop held in Kingman, Arizona. These representatives are now fully prepared to return to their home communities to recruit and work with local team members on our citizen science effort to study the outer solar system.

Lake Havasu City teachers show off their telescope

Lake Havasu City teachers show off their telescope

Team members from Yuma wire up their camera

Team members from Yuma wire up their camera

Amateur astronomers from Blythe show off camera signed by Rock Mallin

Amateur astronomers from Blythe show off camera signed by Rock Mallin

 

The workshop focused on the science of occultation astronomy and provided hands-on experience using RECON telescope and camera equipment both during the daytime and through three nighttime observing sessions.

RECON is grateful to Kingman Unified School District for use of their conference facilities

RECON is grateful to the Kingman Unified School District for hosting the workshop

Participants model Earth's motion through kinesthetic astronomy activity

Participants model Earth’s motion through kinesthetic astronomy activity

Participants also learned about data analysis opportunities and classroom activities to engage students and community members in the project.

Participants practice using RECON equipment under night sky

Team members practice using RECON equipment under night sky

In an event known as an appulse, team members participated in an observation campaign involving a main belt asteroid just grazing a distant star on the final night of the workshop.

Group photograph from Southern RECON Training Workshop held in Kingman Arizona.

Group photograph from Southern RECON Training Workshop held in Kingman Arizona.

The workshop involved representatives from almost half of the full RECON network, with 16 new teams and 8 teams from the pilot project. Participants came from as far south as San Luis, Arizona (along the border with Mexico) to Brewster within 100 miles of the border with Canada. Teams from California (Calipatria, Blythe, Idyllwild, Lone Pine, Bishop, Lee Vining, and Greenville) and Arizona (Yuma, Parker, Lake Havasu, River Valley, Bullhead City, and Kingman/Dolan Springs) were joined by participants from Nevada (Laughlin, Boulder City/Searchlight, Henderson, Indian Springs, Beatty, Tonopah, Hawthorne, Yerington, Gardnerville, Carson City, and Reno) along with teams from Maupin Oregon and Brewster Washington.

In just under a month, the Northern RECON Training Workshop will prepare 25 additional teams from Washington and Oregon.

RECON Expands to 60 Communities Across Western US!!!

Planetary Scientists Marc Buie and John Keller are excited to announce the expansion of RECON — the Research and Education Collaborative Occultation Network — across the entire western United States! The full network will involve at least 55 telescope sites operated by teachers, students, and volunteers from 60 communities located in the rain shadow of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges and along the Colorado River.

Over the next five years, the communities shown on the map below will be involved in this cutting-edge, NSF-funded citizen science astronomy research endeavor to measure and characterize Kuiper Belt Objects located in the outer Solar System. Project Leads Buie and Keller are honored to have visited all of the sites shown on the map during recruitment of the pilot network in fall 2012 and the expanded network in fall 2014.

With this expansion, the project will engage over 60 high schools, 12 colleges and community colleges, 7 astronomy clubs, and 2 astronomy education centers. NSF funding for RECON will be used to provide camera systems to all 54 sites and 46 CPC-1100 telescopes to the communities shown on the map in green. To sites shown in blue, an additional 8 telescopes are being provided by the following RECON collaborators:

Telescopes and cameras will be delivered to new RECON communities over the next month. During the spring, representatives from each community will receive training at workshops held in Kingman, Arizona, and Pasco, Washington. By early May, the network will be fully prepared to conduct up to eight coordinated observation campaigns of Kuiper Belt Objects each year through 2019.

Buie and Keller are also grateful for volunteer collaborators such as Jerry Bardecker from Gardnerville and others associated with the International Occultation Time Association (IOTA) who are providing significant contributions to the project and joining in RECON occultation campaign events to create an even stronger network (current sites shown in purple on map). Individuals interested in learning more about opportunities to participate are encouraged to complete a RECON Individual Interest Form.

Welcome to all of our new RECON students, teachers, and community members!!!

 

RECON Sites Record KBO

RECON is pleased to announce several positive detections of Kuiper Belt Object 2007 UK126 during last month’s occultation campaign on 15 November, 2014. Wet, cloudy weather challenged teams in the northern part of the pilot network, but skies were generally clear from Reno southward.

We are currently analyzing data from all sites, but it is clear that at least two RECON sites and one additional IOTA member detected the occultation.

This represents a significant accomplishment for the pilot RECON network, given that the event involved a faint star (mag 15.8) in a moonlit sky (42% illumination at separation of 85 degrees). It also is a great indication of things to come as we expand the network to over four times its current size in the coming year.

Great job, pilot RECON teams!!!

RECON Ready for 2007 UK126!

The pilot RECON network is set for our second occultation event involving a Kuiper Belt Object, 2007 UK126.  The maps below shows sites that have signed up on Occult Watcher to participate in tonight’s event, including 13 RECON sites and roughly a dozen additional IOTA observers across the nation.

Map shows telescope sites signed up on Occult Watcher to observe 2007 UK126

Map shows telescope sites signed up on Occult Watcher to observe 2007 UK126

The pilot RECON network involves telescopes stretching from Tulelake, California to Tonpah, Nevada.

Pilot RECON network from Tulelake to Tonopah

Pilot RECON network from Tulelake to Tonopah

By May, 2015, RECON will extend down to the US border with Mexico and up to the Canadian border, making the full network a powerful array for observing future KBO occultations. Amateur astronomers from across North America will be invited to join in these campaign events.

Current weather conditions may challenge several RECON sites tonight, especially in the northern part of the network, but our team members are all geared up and ready to get whatever data they can during tonight’s event window from 2:10-2:30AM!