TRIO OF STELLAR OCCULTATIONS BY PLUTO ONE YEAR PRIOR TO NEW HORIZONS' ARRIVAL
Author(s)Pasachoff, Jay M.; Person, Michael J.; Bosh, Amanda S.; Sickafoose, Amanda A.; Kosiarek, Molly R.; Levine, Stephen E.; Osip, David J.; Schiff, Avery; Seeger, Christina H.; Babcock, Bryce A.; Rojo, Patricio; Servajean, Elise; Zuluaga, Carlos Andres; ... Show more Show less
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We observed occultations by Pluto during a predicted series of events in 2014 July with the 1 m telescope of the Mt. John Observatory in New Zealand. The predictions were based on updated astrometry obtained in the previous months at the USNO, CTIO, and Lowell Observatories. We successfully detected occultations by Pluto of an R = 18 mag star on July 23 (14:23:32 ± 00:00:04 UTC to 14:25:30 ± 00:00:04 UTC), with a drop of 75% of the unocculted stellar signal, and of an R = 17 star on July 24 (11:41:30 ± 00:00:08 UTC to 11:43:28 ± 00:00:08 UTC), with a drop of 80% of the unocculted stellar signal, both with 20 s exposures with our frame-transfer Portable Occultation, Eclipse, and Transit System. Since Pluto had a geocentric velocity of 22.51 km s[superscript −1] on July 23 and 22.35 km s[superscript −1] on July 24, these intervals yield limits on the chord lengths (surface and lower atmosphere) of 2700 ± 130 km and 2640 ± 250 km, respectively, indicating that the events were near central, and therefore provide astrometric constraints on the prediction method. Our coordinated observations with the 4 m AAT in Australia on July 23 and the 6.5 m Magellan/Clay on Las Campanas, the 4.1 m Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope on Cerro Pachön, the 2.5 m DuPont on Las Campanas (LCO), the 0.6 m SARA-South on Cerro Tololo of the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA), the MPI/ESO 2.2 m on La Silla, and the 0.45 m Cerro Calán telescope and 0.36 telescope in Constitución in Chile on July 27 and 31, which would have provided higher-cadence observations for studies of Pluto's atmosphere, were largely foiled by clouds, but led to detection with the LCO Magellan/Clay and DuPont Telescopes on July 31 of the grazing occultation of a previously unknown 15th-magnitude star, completing the trio of occultations successfully observed and reported in this paper.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
The Astronomical Journal
Pasachoff, Jay M., Michael J. Person, Amanda S. Bosh, Amanda A. Sickafoose, Carlos Zuluaga, Molly R. Kosiarek, Stephen E. Levine, et al. “ TRIO OF STELLAR OCCULTATIONS BY PLUTO ONE YEAR PRIOR TO NEW HORIZONS ’ ARRIVAL .” The Astronomical Journal 151, no. 4 (March 24, 2016): 97. © 2016 The American Astronomical Society
Final published version