A team from the Williams College Department of Astronomy has
successfully observed the occultation of a faint star by the planet
Pluto. Professor Jay M. Pasachoff, Dr. Bryce Babcock, and David
Ticehurst '03 travelled to Mauna Kea, Hawaii, in an expedition
arranged by Prof. James Elliot of MIT. Their local collaborator was
Dr. David Tholen of the University of Hawaii. The Williams College
group used a high-speed CCD camera on the 2.2-meter University of
Hawaii telescope. In the images below Pluto is the brightest object in
the field. Its satellite Charon is just below and to the left of
Pluto. The star being occulted (designated P131.1) is just below and
to the right or above and to the left of Pluto, depending on the time
of the observation.
The Williams team is collaborating on occultation
observations with Dr. Elliot. Drs. Elliot and Tholen were on adjacent
telescopes taking data in the infrared, which will be compared with
the Williams College optical data to distinguish between conflicting
models of Pluto's atmosphere. Other members of the expedition group on
Mauna Kea were Kelly Clancy, Sheng "Jing Jing" Wu, David Osip, and
Michael Person, all of MIT.
The Williams College expedition was supported by a grant from
Research Corporation with additional support from NASA through the New
Horizons Program and from Williams College.
Also see the article in
Sky and Telescope.
and photos from the Pluto
25 Minutes Before Occultation
16 Minutes Before Occultation
10 Minutes Before Occultation
15 Minutes After Occultation