Asteroid Occultation Approaching—Volunteers Needed

City of Robinson
Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 10:49am

Robinson-On the morning of July 26, 2013, at 2:13 a.m., the asteroid Aquitania will pass over a star in the constellation Sagittarius.

Paul Maley of the International Occultation Timing Association will be coordinating an expedition to record this event on several video enabled telescopes in order to define more accurate dimensions of the asteroid and to detect any possible satellites.

A shadow path is being cast on Earth by the star that will be occulted by the asteroid. The shadow path just so happens to pass through Texas from the southwest to the northeast, which takes it right through Robinson. The CTAS (Central Texas Astronomical Society) group will be responsible for measuring the center section of this 65 mile wide asteroid. Other groups, in different parts of the U.S., will be responsible for the northern and southern sections. The local group will be manning telescope sites that will be spaced approximately three miles apart along U.S. Highway 77 starting just south of Moonlight Drive in Robinson and ending up just north of Cameron.

Volunteers are needed to man each of the telescope stations to start and stop the recordings of the asteroid at the appropriate times. Maley will be holding a training session prior to the occultation to give volunteers instructions on how to operate the telescopes. This training session will be held at Robinson City Hall located at 111 W. Lyndale on July 25, 2013, at 6 p.m.

Volunteers who participate will have their name associated with their telescope station location when the final scientific results are published. Weather permitting, and if everything goes according to plan, the expedition should end up with some very useful data that will give the professional astronomers a better idea of the exact diameter of Aquitania, and whether or not it has its own orbiting moon. Anyone that has an interest in astronomy and would like to find out more about CTAS or how to join, can visit www.centexastronomy.org or call Johnny Barton at (254) 881- 2125.

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