NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2011A-0529

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Proposal Information for 2011A-0529


PI: Scott Sheppard, Carnegie Institution of Washington, sheppard@dtm.ciw.edu
Address: Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, 5241 Broad Branch Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20015, USA

CoI: James Elliot, MIT
CoI: Susan Benecchi, Carnegie Institution
CoI: Carlos Zuluaga, MIT
CoI: Amanda Gulbis, MIT

Title: Precise Astrometry for Predicting Kuiper Belt Object Occultations

Abstract: In order to observe an occultation of a bright star by a Kuiper Belt object the event must first be predicted as to where and when it will happen. These predictions require precise astrometry every few months of the largest Kuiper Belt objects. Through the occultation events the diameters, possible companions and possible tenuous atmospheres around these objects will be explored by examining how the light from the star varies as the KBO passes in front of it. Based mostly on our CTIO observations we have now observed our first ever KBO occultation, with KBO 55636 in October 2009. The results have been published in Nature and show this KBO has the highest albedo of any known KBO. We propose to continue to obtain very precise astrometry on the known brightest KBOs to determine more accurate orbits and thus reliable occultation predictions. In addition, we must also obtain accurate astrometry on faint field stars that the KBOs of interest may occult.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2011A-0529

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