RECON set for first 2017-18 occultation tonight!

The RECON Project will be conducting the first TNO occultation campaign for the 2017-18 school year this evening.  Centaur 01SQ73 will be occulting a magnitude 11.2 star on November 19 at 09:02 UT.  For RECON teams, most will start recording 08:49 UT (that’s 12:49AM PST / 1:49AM MST this Sunday morning, November 19).  You can check out the Event Detail Page for 01SQ73 for local recording windows.

Weather across the network is not perfect but much better than many of last year’s events!  Team members can check out local sky forecasts on our Sky Conditions Page. Because the target star is reasonably bright, team members can also increase sense-up to get a better signal through partial clouds if needed.

Good luck to all of our RECON teams tonight.

Clear Sky Clock forecast map for 2017/11/19 at 9UT

 

Daytime Occultation of Regulus by the Moon

Good luck to all of our RECON Teams on two occultation opportunities this month:

Also, on Saturday morning, November 11 around 17UT, the waning crescent moon will occult the star Regulus.  This event will occur during daylight hours for the western US, but through a telescope, with binoculars, or even just naked eye, you should be able to see both the moon and Regulus before the occultation occurs. The prediction map below shows the path of the moon’s shadow.  This map, along with predicted occultation time by major city, is also available at http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/bstar/1111zc1487.htm.

Shadow prediction for lunar occultation of Regulus

 

Optional IOTA Campaigns

There are two main belt asteroid occultation opportunities for teams located from:

  • Southern Oregon to Portola CA on Friday night, July 21 around 11:20PM PDT/MST
  • Owens Valley down to Lake Havasu City AZ on Saturday night, July 22, around 11:04PM PDT/MST

Both campaigns are optional, but they provide great practice opportunities and will contribute to IOTA efforts. Participating teams are encouraged to sign up using OccultWatcher (or to contact John Keller so that he can sign your team up on OW). Details are provided below.

(1428) Mombasa:
RECON Teams: North Lake OR to Portola CA
Date: 22 Jul 2017 at 06:21 UT
Recording Window: 06:20-06:23 UT
Sense-up: 32x
IOTA Details: http://www.asteroidoccultation.com/2017_07/0722_1428_58040.htm

http://www.asteroidoccultation.com/2017_07/0722_1428_58040_Map.gif

(76) Freia:
RECON Teams: Bishop CA to Lake Havasu City AZ
Date: 23 Jul 2017 at 06:04 UT
Recording Window: 06:03-06:06 UT
Sense-up: 16x
IOTA Details: http://asteroidoccultation.com/2017_07/0723_76_58054.htm

http://asteroidoccultation.com/2017_07/0723_76_58054_Map.gif

 

RECON Campaign involving Chiron!

Happy Fourth of July, RECON!!!

We wanted to provide a heads up about an exciting opportunity to measure Chiron, a 100-km Centaur with suspected ring structure(s)!  We will have an event page up shortly, but the map below provided by LESIA at L’Observatoire de Paris shows that the probabilities of successfully recording this object are high and that the extended RECON network down to Arizona is well positioned to map any extended structures associated with the main body!

Prediction map for occultation by Centaur Chiron on 2017 August 15 UT

The event will occur early on the morning of Tuesday, August 15 around 11:51 UT (4:51AM PDT/MST). Twilight will be approaching during the occultation, but there should be plenty of time to get onto the field prior to this. Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for details!

Observers Track New Horizons’ Next Target – Sky & Telescope

Sky & Telescope just published a nice article about last week’s Southern Hemisphere occultation involving 2014 MU69:

Observers Track New Horizons’ Next Target – Sky & Telescope

All teams on the campaign collected useable data which is currently being analyzed. A photo of RECON Team Member Robert Reaves from Parker, Arizona is included in the article.

RECON Team Member Robert Reaves participating in MU69 campaign in Argentina

RECON Contributes to Southern Hemisphere Campaign

This is an exciting week for RECON Principal Investigator Marc Buie as well as RECON team member Robert Reaves from Parker, Arizona.  Marc is leading a dual continent occultation campaign involving 22 telescopes being deployed in Argentina and South Africa to measure the shadow of 2014 MU69, the next target for the NASA New Horizons mission.  This Friday evening (2017 June 3 at 03:11:50 UT) 22 teams will be deployed on both continents for the first of three occultation opportunities this summer.

Marc invited RECON team member Robert Reaves to join one of these teams for this week’s event.  Both Marc and Robert are currently in South America prepping for the big event. For the next occultation opportunity in early July, Charlene Weisenborn from our Searchlight / Boulder City team will be participating as well.

Marc has been centrally in charge of working on predictions for these campaigns using Hubble and Gaia data.  In addition to observing form Argentina this week, he will also be flying aboard NASA SOFIA during the July event. According to Marc, our experience setting up the RECON network of over 50 telescope sites has been very valuable in prepping for these campaigns. Because 2014 MU69 is only thought to be around 30 km, the spacing of the network will be much tighter than RECON, with telescopes spaced roughly every 10 km rather than 50 km.

For more information, you can check out the New Horizon’s Webpage and the following post:  New Horizons Deploys Global Team for Rare Look at Next Flyby Target

Over the next six weeks, the New Horizons mission team gets an “MU69” preview of sorts – and a chance to gather some critical encounter-planning information – with a rare look at their target object from Earth.

Good luck, Marc, Robert, and all involved in Friday’s campaign!

Not the best night for occultation astronomy!

Our RECON event this Friday evening involving Centaur 07RG283 is going to be challenging to begin with, given that that target star (UC4-683-022040 in Perseus) is a very dim object at magnitude 16.3.  While still within reach of our telescope-camera system, clear skies will be required.

Unfortunately, as the Clear Sky Clock sky forecast map below shows, clear skies this Friday evening will be hard to come by!  In a rare reversal, sky conditions in Washington could be marginally better than the rest of the network, although even here things will be dicey.  Such are the challenges of ground-based astronomy research.  While we anticipate most sites will be clouded out, we appreciated all teams completing the RECON Campaign Observation Report Form, which will be available for one week following the event time.

Sky forecast map at event time for 07RG283 event.