Tasmanian Astronomer Has Pluto In His Sights


For Cambridge astronomer Shevill Mathers, Wednesdays Pluto occultation could be among the most important 99 seconds of his career. Being a friend and co-worker, I wholeheartedly support the selection.

About 3 AM the planet Pluto will briefly passed between the earth and a distant star in the Milky Way in an event called in occultation.  If Mr Mathers succeeds  in nailing the occultation from his Southern Cross observatory, the astronomical world will be applauding him.


Amazing camera technology. Samsung Camera Pictures.

Tasmania and possibly New Zealand are the only places in the world where astronomers can expect to get a good few of the event. Mr Mathers is one of the selected few astronomers in Tasmania who have the equipment and expertise to film the delicate operation.

Professor Jay Pasachoff, director of Hopkins observatory in United States, and one of the worlds leading astrophysicist has entrusted Mr Mather’s with the task. Mr Mathers has taken delivery of a smart camera which must be cooled 2-25°, to enable it to shoot with millisecond accuracy, for recording the exact timing of the occultation.

Shevill’s home observatory. Samsung Camera Pictures.


Mr Mathers will not be able to use a heater. He must instead wear insulated jackets normally worn by people who work in industrial freezes. University of Tasmania astronomers are also preparing to observe the occultation at UTA’s new Bisdee Tier Telescope.  Source; Hobart Mercury. Check Shevill’s page at www.shevillmathers.id.au


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