Clear skies … south of Kingman

During our event last weekend, cloudy skies and rain impacted most all of our Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada sites.  The clouds parted south of Kingman and at least five communities along the Colorado River collected data along with pockets in Lee Vining, Searchlight, and elsewhere.  We will be analyzing these video files in the coming week.  For a snapshot of how things went for each of our telescope sites, you can check out an Event Summary for 12UT68.

Teams that have not yet submitted a RECON Campaign Observation Report Form for the event have until this Sunday evening (one week following the event) to complete this dataset. Also, stay tuned for our next event on the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving. This is going to be our best TNO occultation opportunity since the start of the RECON Project!

Gaia Billion-Star 3D Map of Galaxy

This past week, the European Space Agency released its first dataset produced by the Gaia Mission, a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth-Sun second Lagrange point (L2). This dataset provides precise position and brightness information for over 1.1 billion stars in the Milky Way and satellite galaxies, along with distances and proper motions for 2 million of these. With still more data to come, Gaia provides the most comprehensive 3-dimensional map of the stars in our galaxy.

First release of Gaia dataset (ESA)

First release of Gaia dataset (ESA)

The release of this dataset is extremely significant to RECON, as it essentially eliminates previous uncertainties in the positional information of occultation target stars. This will allow us to make more precise predictions of occultation paths for trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs). Uncertainties remain in our measurements of TNO positions, but Gaia provides a significant improvement to our occultation prediction efforts.

RECON Team Meeting Rocked!

Thanks to the 70 team representatives – included 10 students – who joined us in Carson City back in August for our first annual RECON Team Meeting! The meeting was a very productive opportunity to reconnect, review recent publications, and prepare for future research campaigns. For copies of presentations and materials, visit our Presentations and Educational Resources Page. Below is a group photo from the event:

RECON Team Meeting, Carson City, 2016

RECON Team Meeting, Carson City, 2016

We  also discussed plans for our next team meeting, which will likely be held mid- to late-October 2017 up in the Pacific Northwest!

RECON Team Meeting August 3-5

RECON is gearing up for its first annual Team Meeting to be held in Carson City, Nevada, August 3-5. This science team meeting is an opportunity for representatives from all of our community teams to come together to talk about recent science results, upcoming campaigns, and procedural updates on the project.

More information on the RECON Team Meeting Webpage. Team representatives should use the REGISTER NOW link on that page to sign up for the meeting.

Summer RECON Events

As RECON rolls into the summer months, Marc has been busy doing follow-up observations to provide up-to-date predictions for three upcoming summer TNO occultation events. Based upon this recent work, we are currently planning the following official and optional campaigns:

OFFICIAL FULL CAMPAIGN – 08JO41 on June 20 around 08:48 UT

With an estimated size of 50-125 km, Scattered Disc Object 08JO41 is exactly the type of trans-Neptunian Object that the RECON Network was designed to measure. Based upon astrometry collected this past week, the predicted centerline for this event is over southern Oregon with a 1-sigma cross-track uncertainty of 1511 km.

Global prediction map for 08JO41

Global prediction map for 08JO41

Map showing predicted centerline for 08JO41 (with uncertainty of 1511 km)

Map showing predicted centerline for 08JO41 (with uncertainty of 1511 km)

Based upon our uncertainty calculations, there is a 30% chance that the shadow will pass over a portion of the network. And as with all full campaigns, all telescope sites from Yuma to Oroville provide important data to probe the regions around 08JO41 for moons and rings. Thanks to all RECON teams for gearing up for this full campaign event.

OPTIONAL CAMPAIGNS INVOLVING QUAOAR

With a diameter of around 1110 km, Classical Kuiper Belt Object Quaoar is roughly half the size of Pluto and has a small moon named Weywot.

An artist's conception of Quaoar and its small moon Weywot. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech) - See more at: http://www.space.com/25817-quaoar.html#sthash.DYFAwmeA.dpuf

An artist’s conception of Quaoar and its small moon Weywot.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech)
– See more at: http://www.space.com/25817-quaoar.html#sthash.DYFAwmeA.dpuf

 

There are two upcoming close approaches that could bring the shadow path of this large KBO over the RECON network. The first is on June 26 UT and the next is on July 23 UT. If the object does pass over the network, multiple telescope sites would record this occultation. Marc and several other observers are conducting on-going observations to pin down the probabilities of success for RECON on these two dates (which are currently at 3.2% and 1.4%, respectively). However, there is something peculiar about how this recent data is matching up with previously collected orbital data. Given this, we are announcing these events as optional campaigns for the network and encouraging all RECON teams that are available to participate. We will provide weekly updates leading up to these events, so stay tuned.

RECON NW Networking Opportunities

Many RECON teams successfully recorded data from our double campaign earlier this week. Team are currently reporting their observations by submitting event reports and uploading video and logsheet files to SwRI in Boulder.

For our teams in the Northwest, there are four upcoming opportunities to connect and collaborate.  Marc Buie will be hosting three RECON Meet-Ups this weekend:

  • Friday, May 13 in Okanogan
  • Saturday, May 14 in Ellensburg (including public talk on New Horizons)
  • Sunday, May 15 in The Dalles

Any and all community members are encouraged attend any of these opportunities to connect with other RECON teams and talk through questions about the project.

Also, NASA researcher scientist Dr. Bonnie Buratti will be giving a presentation on the Solar System at Ridgeview High School in Oregon on Friday, May 20. This is another opportunity for Oregon RECON teams to connect. Funds provided through Oregon State are available to help reimburse the cost of shuttling students to this event. To learn more email Amanda Schroeder, schroeam@oregonstate.edu. Feel free to contact Beverly (Schlegel) Vazquez at schlegeb@oregonstate.edu to ask me any questions you have about this event or if you are interested in hosting a table.

buratti_socialmediaShareable.jpg

 

Happy May Day!

May Day is a day of celebration situated midway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. This May will also be a busy RECON month!  We wanted to share the following RECON events with our community.

Full campaign night involving two RECON events in early May
Monday, May 9 starting ~12:50AM PDT/MST (2016 May 09 ~07:50 UT)

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 8. Later than Sunday night/Monday morning, there are two promising RECON events. The first event, announced to the network back in early April, involves Classical Kuiper Belt Object 99HR11. This is a late event occurring just after midnight on the morning of Monday May 9.

Just last week, we received word from astronomers in South America that another event involving Centaur 02GZ32 has a very high probability of passing directly over the network on the same night. Marc and the RIO group are conducting observations and prediction work this week to pin down uncertainties on the shadow path. Given the possibility of discovering a ring system around this Centaur, we will be asking RECON team members to record this event as well if current predictions hold.

Marc will be visiting teams throughout Washington State the following weekend
Friday, May 13 PDT -Training Meetup in Okanogan
Saturday, May 14 PDT -Training Meetup in Ellensburg
Sunday, May 15 PDT – Training Meetup in The Dalles

Marc will be in Washington State the weekend of May 13-15.  Similar to John’s trip through Oregon back in January, nearby teams are encouraged to join for one of the above mini-meetups as an opportunity to reconnect with other RECON team members and also to talk through any questions about the project.  Times and locations will be provided shortly, along with a sign-up form to RSVP for these meet-ups.

Full Campaign involving Scattered Disc Object 99CY11 in late May
Wednesday, May 25 ~11:22 PDT/MST (2016 May 26 ~06:22 UT)

Toward the end of May, our seventh full RECON campaign involves Scattered Disk Object 99CY118, with an orbit that carries the object over twice as far from the Sun as Pluto! Thanks for completing the Pre-Event Confirmation Form at the link above.

2016 RECON Team Meeting in Carson City Nevada during early August
Wednesday-Friday, August 3-5 PDT

We have funding in our NSF award to host three team meetings between now and Fall 2019. We will be providing funding for 1 representative from each of our 55 communities to attend this meeting. Additional team members are also welcome, and we will have a block of extra hotel rooms at our conference rate. We will be providing a registration form to sign up for this event later this week.