Friday, November 29, 2019

the perfect occultation

And it's gone.

I had had high hopes. But the weather scuttled it. The perfect asteroid occultation... On 29 Nov 2019, at 23:14 UT, asteroid (3548) Eurybates was to block the star HIP 113020 for about 5 seconds.

Rank 100.

Star magnitude 10.4.

The best part? The path went through my back yard!

I didn't recall ever seeing this before, the perfect circumstances. High rank, a bright star, and without moving I'd be in the shadow path.

the perfect occultation in OccultWatcher

There was only one possible problem...

When I learned of this event, I was very intrigued. I recognised right away that it would be an easy occultation with a fairly bright star, easy for the 8-inch 'scope for certain, a star with a good elevation in the sky, in Aquarius, just below the Water Jar, but above the tree line, in a dark sky, after sunset, no Moon, no stoopid moonlight to contend with. And I didn't have to go anywhere! Like it was made for me. Truly perfect. And I was keen to try.

First time I felt this is a long time.

Days ago I tested my shortwave radio. I reviewed my backyard planning lists. I checked various software apps. Double-checked things in OccultWatcher. Reviewed the web pages and maps. Readied to go out the evening before to set up the mount, for a good polar alignment, and to double check the sight lines. And I loaded all my weather resources. That was the catch, right? This is possibly the worst time of year with winter coming, continuous gear skies, and, well, location. So I checked every day, sometimes a few times a day, watching the predictions shift and change.

My heart sank during my walkabout this afternoon. Mostly cloudy. And it only got worse.

This could have been my first ever successful asteroid occultation.

Will I have to wait another 10 years?

Another miss.

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