On October 9, 2009, a 19.1 magnitude Kuiper Belt Object will pass in front of a 13.1 magnitude star a few degrees from ??Andromedae. Many people across it’s probable path will photograph the event and feed data back to Dr. James Elliot and Dr. Michael Person of the MIT Planetary Astronomy Lab. Thses scientists are working with Dr. Jay Pasachoff of Williams College as the MIT-Willams College Occultation Consortium in this effort to be the first to record an occultation of this type. The scientific goals of this event are (i) to accurately determine the diameter of 55636, (ii) to probe for any tenuous atmosphere of 55636, and (iii) to detect possible nearby satellites.
I will be travelling to San Pedro Martir, the National Astronomical Observatory of Mexico, to use their 1.5m Cassegrain telescope to capture the event on an FLI MicroLine CCD Camera. I have the scope, with an operator, to myself for 2 nights. It is an opportunity that I think most amateurs, and certainly some professional astronomers would envy. Now if?everything?goes smoothly I should have some great pictures and stories to share.
ATMoB is cooperating on this unique pro-am collaboration. Bernie Volz and Gary Jacobson are taking a camera and portable telescope to the Acapulco, Mexico area, Paul Valelli will be in Nebraska, and John Briggs will bring a scope halfway around the globe to catch the event in Australia. The entire camera, with GPS trigger and Lenovo Netbook, fit into a heavy-duty Storm Case suitable for airline carry-on.
Pictured here (l-r) are Mike Person (MIT), John Briggs (ATMoB) with Storm Case, Bernie Volz (ATMoB)