New Year's Resolution - Use Occult Watcher in your Backyard!

Many RASC members are involved in the sport of occultation chasing. This activity involves monitoring a star when an asteriod is predicted to cross in front of it. By observing the dip in brightness and accurately timing it the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) can put together accurate estimates of the size and shape of the occulting body. This, combined with measurements of the asteroid's brightness helps to refine our knowledge of the members of the asteroid belt.

In order to get involved you need to know when and where these events will take place. Fortunately in this era of computer technology there is an app for that! Hirsto Pavlov of IOTA has created a really cool desktop application called "Occult Watcher" which you can download from here:

One of the key features is to configure your personal profile starting with your location:

by entering your specific parameters you will get a customized feed of events tailored for you. Most importantly you can filter events by their proximity to your observing site and the magnitude of the object.

What's even more important is the participatory aspect. If you choose to "sign-up" for an event your location data can be shared with other observers to help create a prediction track. Here's an example:

So if you're interested in catching a shadow without going to Australia this might be your best chance in 2012. Try it out and see what's coming up in your neighbourhood!