Laptop Power Supply

A couple of teams have had problem with their laptops that were very puzzling. In this case, a working computer became non-functional and unresponsive. The initial guess was a dead battery but the machines were reported to have been “plugged in all day”. It turns out that the problem is a bit of confusion over the proper power supply for the laptop. The power connector for the laptop happens to be essentially the same as the rest of the barrel connectors for the other equipment. The correct power supply for the laptop provides 19V power. Everything else provides 12V.

The confusion centers on the extra power supply provided with your MallinCAMs. In normal circumstances we don’t use this. A picture of one of these power supplies is shown below:

MallinCAM power supply.  This unit provides 12V power.  It is not normally used but can be useful for indoor testing.

MallinCAM power supply. This unit provides 12V power. It is not normally used but can be useful for indoor testing.

The correct power supply for the laptop is shown below. This has a longer cable and the bulky transformer portion is at the plug end. Note that the plug can be removed and rotated if your wall plug or power strip doesn’t like the orientation you are using.

Laptop power supply.  This unit provides 19V power.

Laptop power supply. This unit provides 19V power.

As always, the computer will actually tell you if it is charging properly. There is a little red light on the front of the machine that you can see even with the lid closed. Red means it is charging. While running, there is a tool on the task bar that will tell you if you are on battery or wall power.

Jupiter Mutual Event – Io Eclipses Europa – April 27, 2015


As Jupiter shines brightly during its 2014–2015 apparition, quite often Jupiter’s four big Galilean moons will occult and cast their shadows on each other. A “mutual events season” like this happens about every 6 years, when Earth and Sun cross the plane of the satellites’ orbits.  We are now in the later part of this season, with these mutual events, still occurring thru August.  Some of these events will dim the shadow-eclipsed moon, as seen here, or the combined light of two moons during a partial or total occultation.  Photometric recordings of the events provide a very accurate way to refine the satellites’ gradually changing orbits. Their orbits are morphing in interesting long-term ways due to interactions among the satellites and between them and Jupiter.  Occult Watcher can obtain mutual events through the “Planet Satellites (Global)” feed under “Configuration / Prediction Feeds”.

The event illustrated above occurred on April 27 at 2300 hrs, PDT.  The shadow from the Jovian moon Io was cast upon the surface of Europa as viewed from earth.  The accompanying light curve shows the apparent drop in brightness during the eclipsing event.  The total event was approximately 4 minutes in length out of the nearly ten minutes of recording time.

This particular video was further analyzed by Tony George for accurate timing extraction.  Data was then properly format and sent to the IMCCE in Paris for inclusion in this season’s Jovian moons mutual events data set.

A Reminder for RECON Teams: The video recording of these types of events will probably require some Mallincam camera setting changes to properly record a useable video.  Teams are reminded that camera setting should be returned to the proper RECON occultation settings before a RECON campaign event.

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!!!