The Occultation by the Asteroid Hippo

June 19/20, 2015

The asteroid 426 Hippo occulted a magnitude 12.5 magnitude star in the early morning of June 20. The path went centrally across Cabrillo College, with high odds. The new computer, new install of CCDOPS, C2A, and ASCOM needed a trial run, and I invited Becky and Austin, and Duncan to join the evening. Austin was embarking on a grand road trip across country for a month, so it would be a final chance to do some telescope fun for him.

Also, the cresent moon, Venus and Jupiter made a nice triangle in the evening sky - a good photo op.

The conjunction was beautiful! The shake-down of new software and equipment had some bumps. ASCOM did well with C2A and CCDOPS, but for the multiple red telescope circles at time. Some sort of delayed info coming to C2A? But the worst problem was the CCDOPS, when told to self-guide, after I picked a guide star, the guide view was empty - the star wasn't there. No clue why, and true even when the guide star was 4th magnitude. When I aimed it at M13 I think perhaps it was indeed aimed near M13 or maybe the outskirts, because I saw some dim stars on the guide view box. I will try to re-install the old version of CCDOPS and see if that helps, maybe next week. So, we got no astrophotography done. Too bad; Comet Lovejoy is still nice in the celestial pole area, with a very diffuse dust tail.

I had the clever idea of photographing the eastern sky from the dome slit, noting the exact time, and then bringing up C2A to determine the altitude of the stars along the horizon at the azimuth of the Hippo occultation. Frustratingly, the horizon there is about the lowest of anywhere on the local horizon, but still 23 degrees up. The occultation was at 22 degrees - invisible! Nowhere in the canyon had a better horizon, and I wasn't yet equipped to "go mobile" for asteroid events yet. So, at least I'd get more sleep... I spent the night there anyway - a nice place to listen to a good offering on YouTube while drifting off to sleep, after the gang left.

From right to left - Venus, Jupiter, and Regulus, in Leo, with the moon below

Over the dome of Cabrillo College Observatory

We had a good evening sharing thoughts