The Occultation by Auricula

Nov 2/3, 2014

This was quite a nice bright star; magnitude 9.4, and high in the sky. The problem was the rank was only 26, and the predicted path was just south of Carmel. Too low a rank to justify travelling there, and besides I had a climate meeting to attend. So, off to Cabrillo Observatory. I refocused the Orion Shortube and found I could easily see the star on the finderscope TV. Also got a drift-scan image. The odds of a hit here were only 6% and I got a late start after the meeting, so didn't have time to get out the full video gear. It may be possible, in the future, to simply hook the camcorder to the input video line to the TV. This is relevant for the 7.7 magnitude Geruda event later this month.

There was a definite miss for me.

Here's where all the magic happens! In front of our all-wonderful master computer - Spock - which controls the CCD camera, and the G11 telescope mount, all from the comforts of the "warm room" as we astronomers like to call it.

Here's the computer screen - CCDOPs controls the CCD camera and does the dark-subtract, flat-field, and color conversion of the raw image. A user-designed bit of software called is at upper right, and talks to the Gemini computer which is connected to the motors on the G11 mount.

A 60 second exposure begun at exactly 7:37:00 UT, and tracking shut off at exactly 7:37:05 UT, with the star trailing downward. Predicted 1.7 second event at 7:37:36 UT, about midway down the track here. No gap in the track = no occultation from here. Also a miss for nearby Derek Breit in Morgan Hill.

The target star was relatively bright, at magnitude 9.4, and coupled with the 0.5x focal reducer, bright enough to show up on the PC164C video camera feed from the Orion 80mm refractor finderscope.