Well I am now only two days away for the event that has brought me to South Africa. For reference what I am observing is actually quite simple. In the most basic of terms we are observing a small solar system object, like an asteroid, that is out past Neptune and even Pluto, 2014MU69, as it passes in front of a star. What we observe is a slight dimming of the star, similar to the transit method of detecting exoplanets. "What", you might ask, "is this useful for?" Well, the answer is New Horizons. New Horizons, you might remember, is the NASA spacecraft that flew past Pluto in 2015. Now that its primary mission is complete, it is on to its next target, 2014MU69.
We are observing this dimming from 24 locations spread across two contents (South America and Africa), and from all this information we will be able to determine the size, shape, distance, velocity, direction of motion/orbital parameters, and presence of moons or rings. This will allow New Horizons to complete a safe and accurate fly by. Here is a link to the NASA article explaining this project in more detail.
So, where we are at now is we have the telescopes figured out, collimated, and ready to go. We have also scoped out locations to observe from at each of our designated areas. So tomorrow we will be heading out for a dress rehearsal and then the event will occur on Friday night. That's all for now, but I promise to get some photos up soon, but right now its 1:30 am local time and I have another 16 hour day tomorrow. But I have to say, this is a truly beautiful area, and the people here are just wonderful.
05-31-2017 5:15 PM