Wow. Sorry this pic came out so scary! That's me, packing the car after the event, under lit and over-Photoshop'd. This event was one of the best predicted local asteroid occultation events for 2011. Unfortunately it happened on Thanksgiving night, and so wasn't so convenient. The path had a rank of 99, and the southern limit was roughly through Boulder Creek. My plan originally was to go to Locatelli Meadow up Empire Grade Road, but after being invited to Karl's for T-day get-together'ing, I switched that to Castle Rock, a bit deeper into the path with odds about 70%, and a relatively straight drive along the winding roads along the spine of the Santa Cruz Mountains. After lots of turkey and good company at Dave and Diane's, I swung by the Observatory and picked up the 10" Meade and video gear. Skies were cloudy and it was very wet, with a storm earlier in the morning. ClearSkyClocks predicted that clean skies would begin at 6pm. In fact, it cleared about the time I got to Karl's (for T-day get together #2), at 7pm. Visited with Karl, Garth, Kelly, Carla, and at 9:40pm I headed off. I arrived at the Castle Rock State Park parking lot, which had a good view of the target area (nearly straight overhead) and got me off the main Hwy 35 traffic and dense forest cover. I was surprised to see another car there, but I guessed it might be climbers who were camped somewhere down the trail towards Goat Rock.

Skies were perfectly clear, but it was very wet and my main worry was keeping the corrector plate free of dew. Got the scope powered up, did a 2-star alignment on Polaris and Aldebaren so that the scope would accurately go-to the target star a few degrees away. No doubt on the target ID, as the asteroid and target star were both 11.1 magnitude and a close pair. Now 25 minutes before the event, they were obvious as a close binary using the 22mm Nagler at 112x. As I was setting up, I heard a loud groan which almost sounded like a bear. Except, bears don't exist in these mountains any more. Got the video gear hooked up, turned on the shortwave radio and WWV just in case I had to "go visual" and shortly after powering up the camcorder, I got a warning message - "change battery pack" - on the camcorder LCD screen. I realized that all the work I'd spent examining and off-loading the Quadea event of a month earlier had drained the battery and I'd forgotten to recharge it. Damn! Was I going to be ruined? I did not bring the AC cord for the camcorder as I had no had this problem before - it's an oversized battery pack. If I had, I could've hooked the inverter to the cig lighter in the RAV4 and saved the day. Instead, it was now only 5 minutes to go, and there was no choice but to "go visual". I yanked off the f/3.3 reducer and PC164Cex2 video camera and put on the diagnonal and 22mm Nagler, grabbed the tape recorder and placed it between me and the WWV receiver. Just then, I saw a flashlight begin coming my way from the car about 80 feet away. Damn. NOW what? It was indeed a climber (or camper of some sort), complaining about my "music". I quickly explained it was WWV time signals on shortwave, I was an astronomer doing BIG SCIENCE, and to just relax since I would be killing the radio and leaving in just 10 minutes. He grumbled and walked back to his car.

The star+asteroid was pretty bright in the Nagler, but I estimated not bright enough to stare at directly and be able to see the 0.8 mag predicted brightness drop easily. The predicted event time was 11:29:29pm and as the seconds got close, I let my eye play around the target to practice averted vision, which was significantly brighter than the other stars in the field. If I hadn't been distracted, I'd have payed more attention to exactly how bright the asteroid alone looked, in comparison to other stars in the field. A 0.8 mag dropp is marginal to be able to see visually. At 11:29:36.45pm the star took a sharp drop to half its brightness. I softly said "D!" so as not to further anger the pair nearby. Reaction time was 0.5 second. I moved my eye about to try to use averted vision to better detect the "R", but soon realized the star was clearly already returned to normal brightness. Two seconds or so after the D. I now think that the R might have been gradual enough that I just didn't notice it what with my wandering eye attempt to increase averted vision. I've learned - don't do that!

Rick Baldridge used the 16" scope at Foothill College to videorecord the event, , and had a brief blink lasting only about 0.4 seconds at track = -10.03 km. Yanhze Liu nearby had a similar event. Back east in Maryland, Andy Scheck and Steve Conrad (miss) got data.

My Timings, Coordinates, and IOTA Report

D: 7:29:36.45 +-0.2sec, RT=0.50 sec, voice/WWV/tape recorder method

R: 7:29:38.4 +- 1.0 sec, eye/ear method

My position: track = -24.75km, Long=122d 05m 45.50s, Lat=37deg 13' 50.20" Elev=3020ft, Datum=WGS84 from Google Earth

The parking lot at Castle Rock State Park, on Google Earth

Rick Baldridge's recording shows normal scintillation except for the brief 'blink' which aligns well with my own "D". This is the preliminary reduction

Baldridge's record around the time of the Blink. This is from the preliminary reduction.

Brad Timerson's Occular analysis of Rick's revised Limovie output.

OCCULT ellipsoidal profile fit to the observations. My "R", a guess, seems likely to be too early

The observations, fit to the DAMIT model, which uses photometry to determine a shape.

Here's a map of the East Coast and the West Coast observers for this event.