Happy Thanksgiving RECON!

OccultWatcher Map for (54598) Bienor

Prediction path and 1-sigma uncertainty for upcoming event on 5 December 2015 UT

Looking back at my calendar this morning, I realized that it has been just a year since Marc and I were completing our final recruitment trip through Blythe, Parker, Havasu, Yuma, and Calipatria November 17-21, 2014. Since that time, the full RECON network has been outfitted with telescopes, laptops, and camera equipment, participated in two trainings in Kingman and Pasco involving over 150 participants, and conducted two full campaign events during June and October!

During this holiday time, Marc and I wanted to share our sincere thanks to all of our RECON teams – thanks for joining in this shared, collective effort to better understand the outer Solar System and train a new generation of astronomers!

Global Map for 13WV107

Global Map showing prediction for 13WV107 on 1 December 2015 UT

The week following Thanksgiving, we will be conducting two official RECON campaigns. The first event – Monday evening/Tuesday morning on 1 December 2015 UT –  involves Centaur 13WV107. This event was identified using a new RECON Prediction Tool that Marc developed this fall. Current predictions place the centerline over Yuma, Arizona with a 1-sigma cross track uncertainty of 963 km – which extends up to Susanville! As with all campaigns, all RECON sites that are able to collect data will probe the region of space around the object for moons and rings. Thanks to all teams for signing up with our Pre-Event Confirmation Form for 13WV107.

Global Map for (54598) Bienor

Global map showing prediction for (54598) Bienor on 5 December 2015 UT

Later next week – Friday evening/Saturday morning on 5 December 2015 UT – RECON will be observing a second event involving Centaur (54598) Bienor. This event was identified by the RIO_TNO group using recently acquired astrometry from earlier this fall. This astrometry places the centerline of the event over directly over Reno Nevada, and ALL RECON sites are located within the 1-sigma cross track uncertainty! The target star is very dim, just at the sensitivity limit of our camera system, but with attention to fine focus, we should be able to detect this occultation. RECON teams can sign up for this event directly using OccultWatcher (see image at beginning of this post) or complete our Pre-Event Confirmation form for (54598) Bienor.

Thank you again, RECON!  We wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving!!!

John and Marc


Gearing up for 2 Campaigns in Early December

RECON is preparing to observe two separate occultation events in early December.  The first event involves 2013 WV107 on December 1 UT (the night of November 30-December 1) and the second event involves Bienor on December 5 UT (the night of December 4-5). Both events involve Centaurs occulting very faint stars so our teams will have to spend time making sure the star field is sharply focused, but the shadow path positions and uncertainties make these very high probability events for the network.

Full sky starchart showing location of our December events

Full sky starchart showing location of our December events

RECON Data Transfer Tool

All of our RECON teams have been provided with a new data transfer tool for uploading event data to our server at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder. We will be able to begin analysis of both our June and October events after data has been transferred using the new tool.  For more information on installing and using the tool, visit our Data Transfer Tool Guide.

Screen shot of cwrsync data transfer tool at work

Screen shot of cwrsync data transfer tool at work

CA STEM Symposium

John Keller and Keitha McCandless gave a presentation yesterday at the 2015 California STEM Symposium. A copy of their presentation will be made available on this website early next week. Additional presentations on RECON are available our Presentations and Educational Resources page. Thanks to all who joined this session!

McCandless presenting at 2015 CA STEM Symposium

McCandless presenting at 2015 CA STEM Symposium

Keller presenting at 2015 CA STEM Symposium

Keller presenting at 2015 CA STEM Symposium

All set for TNO 2007 RG283!

The RECON Project is engaging in its second full network campaign just before midnight Pacific Time on Sunday, October 18, through Monday, October 19. This event involves TNO 2007 RG283, a Centaur with an orbit taking it both out past the orbit of Neptune and interior to the orbit of Uranus. Currently 15.5 AU from Earth, the Centaur is located above the ecliptic (plane of the Solar System) in the northern constellation of Perseus.

Orbit diagram for 2007 RG283

Orbit diagram for 2007 RG283 (credit JPL Solar System Dynamics Small Body Data Browser)

When the RECON network observes this object passing in from on 15.3 magnitude star UC4-692-020389 this weekend, we will be probing both the Centaur as well as the region of space extending over 2000 km around this trans-Neptunian Object.  We would like to thank all of our team members from Oroville Washington to Yuma Arizona for their efforts in observing this event!

Second Full RECON Campaign Announced

Just before midnight on Sunday, October 18 (October 19 UT), RECON will be conducting its second full network campaign involving Centaur 2007 RG283. The predicted centerline for this event is closer to the northern portion of the network (with a 1-sigma uncertainty of 684 km), but all RECON sites will provide valuable data for probing the region around 2007 RG283 for moons and rings. All RECON sites and other participants are asked to complete a Pre-Event Confirmation Form by Friday, October 9 so that we can provide any assistance as needed.

Predicted Centerline for 2007 RG283

Predicted Centerline for 2007 RG283


RECON support Lassen Dark Sky Festival

This past August, roughly a dozen RECON team members supported the Lassen Volcanic Park Dark Sky Festival in northeastern California.  During this three day event, RECON teammembers from Goldendale, The Dalles, Susanville, Greenville, Quincy, Reno, and Kingman helped with both daytime solar viewing and nighttime telescope viewing at the Loomis Visitor Center within the park. RECON participants were enthusiastic about returning to the event again next year both as an opportunity to share our project with the public and as a chance to reconnected in person.

RECON joined several other astronomy organizations at Loomis Visitor Center.

RECON joined several astronomy organizations at Loomis Visitor Center.


Buck Bateson from Susanville sets up solar scope in front of RECON Booth

Bob Yoesle from Goldendale speaks with Park Ranger Kevin Sweeney

Bob Yoesle from Goldendale speaks with Park Ranger Kevin Sweeney about solar astronomy

Lou Lofton from Reno talks about RECON with park visitor

Lou Lofton from Reno talks about RECON with park visitor

You Too Can See Pluto !

With the historic success of New Horizons, the publics interest in Pluto is at an all time high.  Many in the RECON communities have been interested in using their RECON telescope and camera systems to view Pluto.  From my location in Gardnerville Nevada, Pluto has recently been viewable in the low southern skies.  The best times for observing have been around midnight as Pluto rises to it’s highest elevation of around 25 degrees.  At magnitude 14.1 Pluto was easily discernible in the crowded star field of Serpens, if you knew where to look.  You will need an accurate star chart of the star field from the internet or from a planetarium program like GUIDE from the Pluto Project, or similar program.  The annotated image below is a clipped frame from an observation I made on July 16th at just before midnight PDT.  The skies were exceptionally clear and the seeing was very good.  Pluto has now transitioned into Sagittarius and as of July 20th will be just to the NE of mag 3.5, Xi2 Sgr, (TYC 6294 2507 / SAO 187504) at around midnight PDT.  Although Clyde Tombaugh didn’t know where to look for this far off world, you can see Pluto with the help of modern technology.  See if you can find it !!

RECON Teams Join in Weywot Campaign

On the evening of Tuesday, July 14, just a half day after the New Horizons spacecraft successfully flew by Pluto, seven RECON teams participated in an optional RECON campaign involving Weywot, a moon of classical Kuiper Belt Object Quaoar.  RECON teams from Ellensburg, The Dalles, Carson City, Gardnerville, Boulder City, Lake Havasu, and Yuma joined six other teams affiliated with the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) in this predicted occultation event.

Team members in Yuma were joined by reporter Amanda Solliday during this event. Her story on the RECON Project was aired today on KAWC – Colorado River Public Media and will be featured across the state of Arizona on KJZZ on Monday, July 20.