MIT-Williams Occultation Consortium

A full set of occultation observations and expeditions, with links to published scientific papers

Astronomers at Williams College and MIT have joined to study small objects in the outer Solar System by observing occultations, events in which the light of a star is briefly blocked by the object. By such observations we can determine the size and shape of the Solar System object, and learn about its atmosphere, if any. This research has been enhanced by an equipment grant from NASA, and the expeditions are sponsored by NASA's Planetary Astronomy Program.

2005 Charon Occultation Press Release

At Cerro Armazones, Chile (L-R): Taavi Tuvikene, Joseph Gangestad, Bryce Babcock, Michael Person

At Pico dos Dias, Brazil (L-R): Steven Souza, Jay Pasachoff, Marcelo Emilio

Click on the image above to see a movie of the event, as observed by James Elliot and Elisabeth Adams of MIT. Notice the lower object grow dimmer as Charon blocks the light of C313.2, and then brighten as the star reappears.

The drawing above illustrates the relative light gathering areas of the telescopes used in these observations.

2002 Pluto Occultation Press Release

Occultation Light Curve


last modified 7/3/2007

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