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Pluto occults 11mag star for Europe

Due to very poor weather conditions over all of Europe, only a few stations of the big campaign for the Pluto occultation on the 14th of February 2010. got results.

Bruno Sicardy from The Observatoire d Paris/Meudon gave an overview of the campaign as follows:

Hello all,

I have been in touch with you concerning the Pluto occultation of yesterday (Feb. 14), and I reported news to some of you, but not all.

So, please find below some news I had directly.

The event was observed from E. Switzerland (Lu) by Larry Wasserman, Cathy Olkin (and Vaclav and Jitka), SE France (Sisteron) by Frederic Vachier, and SW France (Pic du Midi) by Jean Lecacheux.

The event occurred ~90 sec ahead of predicted time (by Rio de Janeiro group), meaning a EW error of ~90 mas for Pluto and/or the star. Duration is more than 80 sec at Pic du Midi, meaning an error of less than 20 mas in NS direction. All those numbers still to be confirmed.

Anyway it is good news that our predictions was good in NS direction, for preparing safely forthcoming Pluto events.

Thanks to everyone for the huge efforts made! A positive aspect, in spite of terrible weather, is that many contacts and experiments were made in Europe for this occultation. This is a good point for future events.




Lets hope, that there will be some results about Pluto's atmosphere....

In the following you can read the infos about the campaign, the call for observation and other important infos.

Dear observer!

Pluto occults a 11mag star 2UCAC 24920649 visible from many parts of central Europe on the 14th of February 2010 around 4h 50min UTC. This is in may parts of Europe near sunrise. Pluto is not too far above the horizon, but I believe, that this event is the most prominent and best for Europe in the next decade or more.

The occultation will not only allow to determine very precisely the offset of Pluto's orbit versus the DE413 (or DE421) orbit, but will also allow a more precise determination of the parameters of Pluto's thin atmosphere. In any case, its an occultation ,where even small telescopes (perhaps only 6 inch diameter) equipped with a sensitve camera (perhaps even a webcam) can determine the existence of its atmosphere.

IOTA-ES issues a “Call for Observation” of this event and will make this one of the most remarkable events to observe for the next year. Updates of the occultation track will be presented here on the webpage as well as discussions and informations about “How to do it” !

Have a look! Sites will be updated, if new informations are getting in! Perhaps I will open a special Blog on this event, as has been done for Varuna last year.

Bruno Sicardy has opened a special website for this event, which can be found below. It holds many important informations about the scientific objectives, observing, astrometry, charts and more. It is updated regularly, keep in mind, that you can join a very important campaign concerning Pluto's atmosphere!

With best regards from Munich


Dr. Wolfgang Beisker

International Occultation Timing Association / European Section

Research and Development

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