Mid-July Light Curves

Much of the network was clouded out for the two mid-July events, (1177) Gonnessia and (240) Vanadis.  Nevertheless, two teams were fortunate enough to capture an occultation: Quincy and Cedarville respectively.

For Gonnessia, Greenville recorded a miss and Quincy had a positive event.  This places the shadow path well north of the final IOTA prediction and somewhat south of the initial NA Low Magnitude prediction.  Here is the light curve from the occultation captured by Will Anderson and Charley Arrowsmith in Quincy.

Quincy: (1177) Gonnessia occults 2UCAC29545635

The predicted shadow path may have been more accurate on the next night for Vanadis.  Below is the light curve from the 6.373 second occultation captured by Brian Cain and Terry Miller in Cedarville.

Cedarville: (240) Vanadis occults 2UCAC 23001849

Asteroids Ceres and Vesta in Virgo – July 4, 2014

Vesta_Ceres_Final_PSE Copy_Sml

The image depicted here shows the asteroids Ceres and Vesta as they appeared in the constellation Virgo on July 4, 2014. Ceres is at magnitude 8.5 and Vesta is 7.2.  On the date of this image they were approximately 10 arcminutes apart.  Although they look close together they are actually about 74 million kms apart with Ceres in the background.  This is why Ceres might appear slightly fainter.  Ceres, with a diameter of about 940 kms, is actually twice as large as Vesta.

You might notice that the asteroids appear slightly elongated in this image (moving from upper right to lower left).  This is due to the movement of the bodies during the course of the 30 minutes it took to acquire the stack of images that make up this final picture.  Vesta is moving faster relative to Ceres and might appear slight more elongated.

The two fuzzy objects is the lower right section are the spiral galaxies NGC 5184 (higher) and NGC 5183 (lower).  They both shine at approximately magnitude 13.5.  These galaxies are approx. 170 to 180 million light years from earth.  The brightest star here is TYC 4966 149 (lower, just left of center) at visual magnitude 10.4.

Invisible in this image is NASA’s Dawn spacecraft having just completed it’s 2011-2012 visit to Vesta and is on course to it’s mapping project of Ceres.  Dawn is scheduled to arrive at Ceres in 2015.

Day 3: Update (Data Collection)

2014-05-29_22.53.55[1]We are now well into the night and have been collecting data for hours. Our last night at Kitt Peak National Observatory has been off to a good start and the weather is still looking good. Everyone is hard at work to get the data completed before the weather turns or twilight comes!

-Lake Shank & Shelby Brown


Kitt Peak: Day 3 Update





2014-05-29 12.43.44During the day, the team decided to take a trip down to the solar telescope. The solar telescope isn’t as big but it’s still awe inspiring!

picture051Contrary to last night, the clouds seem to be clearing and the weather seems pretty good. We will keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t take a turn for the worse!


Kitt Peak :Data Collection

Due to bad weather conditions, we could not open the dome last night to observe anything.  However, we were able to sift through the data we had collected the night before last and were able to identify possible TNOs.

Below is a raw picture of the data collected.  Every bright spot in the image is  a star and we had taken about one hundred exposures (Which all looked like the picture below), in order to analyze them and identify Kuiper belt objects!

the first


After taking the images, some of which required over 10 minutes of exposure time, we had to locate the objects moving in each frame.  THE SECOND


In order to locate these objects we received pictures that looked like the one above, containing bright “white spots” of stars.  The image above was obtained by taking multiple images in different color schemes and placing them over one another.  In doing so, a moving object will appear to be red in one image and blue in another, indicating it had moved.  The red/cyan spots in the image above are not Kuiper belt objects, it is most likely a main belt asteroid or an asteroid that is in close proximity to the Earth (Due to its large size and the distance it has moved).  Real Kuiper belt objects would be much smaller and the red/cyan spots would be much closer together.  The distance between the red/cyan pair above is about 30arc seconds per hour, a real Kuiper belt object would be less than 3arc seconds per hour.

Below are a few images of galaxies that we were able to see! (You may also be able to identify red and cyan spots which are asteroids or possible Kuiper belt objects).IMG_2908IMG_2906IMG_2911


-Shelby & Lake