Skip to main content

International Occultation Timing Association Meets at the AAVSO!

Posted by kqr on December 31, 2010 - 12:37am

IOTA Meeting at AnnexSaturday, 4 December, saw the AAVSO host part of the Boston meeting of the International Occultation Timing Association. What began as a meeting where I'd set up the projector for folks to use the next day grew into a meeting that included video, audio, and collaborative internet transmissions to 35 people at one point around the world, including a presentation from an IOTA member in Australia!

Arne was very specific that I wasn't required to do this, but knowing all that could, and does, go wrong with technology like I do, I felt it was in everyone's interests that the AAVSO make a good impression with our fellow colleagues.

The International Occultation Timing Association monitors and times occultations. As variable star observers we're used to this type of thing in our field with our monitoring of eclipsing binary stars. The IOTA does similar activities with planets, moons, and asteroids. Occultation timing is important in getting a sense of the size and geometry of asteroids. A few asteroid satellites have been discovered during occultation monitoring.

The meeting largely went well. At one point 35 people were attending via the Net, and we had about 20 people here, including our own Paul Valleli and Mario Motta. Arne also dropped in late in the day. I love meetings like this because they tend to re-energize me. Aaron Price has often said that the best part of the AAVSO is its meetings, and I'll tend to agree with him. I think that may be true of other organizations as well.

One of the reasons we bought the current HQ building was the possibility of holding meetings in the Annex. Now that we've refurbished the Annex that has again become a future possibility. It was nice that we were able to extend that possibility and help out some of our fellow astronomers.

Comments

Here is KQR's text that causes me to comment:
"The International Occultation Timing Association monitors and times occultations. As variable star observers we're used to this type of thing in our field with our monitoring of eclipsing binary stars. The IOTA does similar activities with planets, moons, and asteroids. Occultation timing is important in getting a sense of the size and geometry of asteroids. A few asteroid satellites have been discovered during occultation monitoring."

My comment is that such a meeting is entirely natural in an historical sense. Occultation timing was, for many years, an important component of the AAVSO's observing program, not just the making the actual lunar occultation timings, but also making the predictions of observable occultations, and then of reducing the observed occultations to determine the actual center of the moon's observable disk from the individual occultation timing. The reasons why AAVSO got so involved in this contribution to astronomical science are very interesting as well as the fact that it went on for so long and a lot of AAVSOers participated.

This is all a part of the centennial history of the AAVSO, soon to be available to everyone.

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484