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Ask an Expert: Join NASA in Measuring an Asteroid
07.03.11
 
Artist concept of a narrow asteroid belt Artist concept of a narrow asteroid belt orbiting a star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Asteroid 253 Mathilde, a C type asteroid with a composition similar to 52 Europa Asteroid 253 Mathilde, a C-type asteroid with a composition similar to 52 Europa. (NASA/JPL/JHUAPL)

More Information
Link: Dawn: Journey to the Asteroid Belt
On the evening of July 3 at 11:05:30 p.m. EDT -- at a distance of 280 millon miles into space -- asteroid 52 Europa passed in front of star TYC 0292-00339-1 in the constellation Virgo. The asteroid eclipsed the star's light in a process known as occultation. Here on Earth, astronomers will use these measurements to help verify the size of 52 Europa.

Dr. Bill Cooke and his team from NASA's Meteor Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center watched the sky to observe the occultation via a live Ustream feed and answered your questions. Check back later for a transcript of the chat.

View all details about this event.

More About the Chat Experts

Bill Cooke
Danielle Moser
Rhiannon Blaauw

Chat Transcript

Bill: Hi everyone, welcome to the chat! Looking forward to your questions tonight...

Dan: Why this particular occultation? I reckon it's because of the timing (good for U.S., bad for Europe :-) ...

Bill: Hi Dan! This one because of timing and because our telescope here at Marshall is located near the center of the path.

Dimitris_Xrist: hi11

Bill: Welcome Dimitris.

DavidCW: Hey everyone

Danielle: Hello!

Bill: By the way...on the embedded feed above, we're trying to track on the International Space Station, which should become visible any minute in a path over Huntsville, Alabama.

DavidCW: Is this Telescope going to zoom in so to speak or is it going to stay like it is?

Bill: It will stay like it is. For now, trying to track on that ISS flyby over Huntsville.

3.49amJokes: Hello from Beirut, Lebanon! It’s now 4:30am here and I woke up (along with a friend) just to attend this chat! :)

Danielle: Welcome! Glad you could join us!

Bill: There it is, in the middle...ISS on the feed. We're tracking on it with our scope.

Dimitris_Xrist: i don't speak very well English but I try to speak you!!

Bill: Great! Do you have some questions?

Jaucarree: Is 52 EUROPA the largest asteroid? (thank you - I’m his friend by the way)

Bill: No, the largest is called Ceres. 52 Europa is the 7th largest asteroid in the asteroid belt.

DavidCW: Where are you guys located?? Are you in the same place as the telescope?

Danielle: Yes, we are in Huntsville, AL, along with the 'scope.

tanya_lall: sir I am Tanya from India and I would like to thank you for giving me the chance to see this wonder of the universe.

Bill: You're very welcome...

Bill: That's the ISS you're seeing on the feed above, live in a fly-by over Huntsville, Alabama...

Dimitris_Xrist: yes of course.... have aliens exist??

Bill: Nope. :)

jazofscience: I had a question about what the meteor was made of!

Danielle: Well first, we are interested in an asteroid tonight! The asteroid, 52 Europa, shows evidence of olivine and pyroxene on the surface.

Jaucarree: what exactly happens when an asteroid suffers a collision?

Bill: With another asteroid? In that case, either they stick together or one or both shatter.

AAHaulward: Ceres is a dwarf planet, isn't it?

Bill: Yes, technically it's now considered a dwarf planet, but also the largest body in the asteroid belt.

Bill: A note from Rhiannon: Blaauw on our team: "We are also tweeting tonight! You can follow us at twitter.com/MeteorScientist where we will be posting information and answering questions!"

tanya_lall: how will you measure the size of the asteroid?

Danielle: We, along with others, will time how long the target star is dimmed when the asteroid passes in front of it. From there we will calculate the size/shape of the asteroid at that instant in time.

3.49amJokes: so how exactly do you measure an asteroid, in this case when an Occultation occurs?

Bill: You measure the length of time that the star is dimmed out and you know the asteroid's orbit, so we can compute its speed relative to Earth. Then, the size of the asteroid is simply the time the star is dimmed multiplied by the speed relative to the Earth. Very easy!

jazofscience: can Ceres become a planet if collecting mass?

Bill: It's not collecting mass so it will remain at its current size.

Dan: To get a diameter/shape you need many chords: Do you know about others covering the Occultation elsewhere?

Danielle: I believe members of IOTA, the International Occultation Timing Association, will be observing this Occultation. But I do not know of any others streaming video of it.

Bill: A note about the feed above: the screen will be mostly dark until the time of the Occultation, approximately 11:05 p.m. EDT.

tanya_lall: how often these asteroids pass near our earth?

Bill: No asteroid in the main belt passes near Earth, ever. Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) pass by Earth fairly frequently. One, a small NEA called 2011 MD, passed within 7,500 miles of Earth last week.

Bill: On the feed now, you can see Saturn: and one of its moons, Titan, the bright object to the left of Saturn.

rhn1818: Where is the asteroid heading towards?

Bill: It's in an orbit in the main belt circling the sun. It's not heading for any planet.

rhn1818: Hi! This is so exciting! Is a large asteroid, such as 52 Europa, passing close to the Earth a rare incident? Thank you for answering my question.

Danielle: 52 Europa isn't passing close to Earth. It's actually 280 million miles away.

Dimitris_Xrist: I have heard that there are bacterias on asteroids.... is it true???

Bill: Not as far as we know...

BoB_SharK: So are we seeing like the inside of the build-up REALLY close and out of focus????

Bill: Right now you're seeing Saturn: and Titan. Saturn: is very bright so it doesn't appear clear.

littleon:e715: Hello from Ocala, Florida am I correct that the eclipse starts at 11:05 pm EDT?

Danielle: Yes, the Occultation is predicted to occur at that time. We will begin streaming video of the event several minutes before hand.

Space_Man: So do you guys love your job or what? looks beautiful out there!

Danielle: It's pretty awesome!!

rhn1818: Since the Moon is very far away from the Sun, why is a solar eclipse not called a solar Occultation?

Bill: It could be, but eclipses are usually reserved for bodies that appear to be the same size as seen from the observer. To your eye, the moon and sun are roughly the same size, so we call events involving them eclipses.

astroguyz: Will try for the 52 Europa Occultation with my 8" scope; should be a possibility of a graze from north of Tampa Bay, if the weather cooperates.

Danielle: That's great! I wish you clear skies!!

Jaucarree: how many kind of asteroids exist ? And which characteristics makes them different?

Bill: Asteroids come in an infinity of varieties. Some are rubble piles of loosely held gravel; others may very well be made mostly of iron. You can imagine all sorts of things in-between.

Moderator Jason: Have a question you've been waiting to ask? Type it in the box below the window and then hit the 'Ask' button on the lower right. Thanks for your patience as we work on getting you answers to your questions.

Mila: Are there any interesting Occultations going to occur any time soon? (Other than this one of course)

Bill: Check the IOTA Web site. Go to this page: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/europa_feature.html and click on their link.

eyesea: This rules so much :D HAHA

Bill: We like ruling. :)

rhn1818: What telescope is being used to observe the asteroid? How many telescopes?

Danielle: Here at Marshall Space Flight Center we will being using a 14" telescope to observe the star TYC 0292-00339-1 dim as 52 Europa passes in front of it.

chris: Is this asteroid made up of the usual material?

Danielle: 52 Europa is a dark, carbonaceous C-type asteroid. Spectroscopic studies indicate that its surface contains olivine and pyroxene.

nasa_kid: can somebody tell me what’s up here? It’s just a blank screen with numbers on it.

Bill: Right now you're seeing Saturn and Titan (left of Saturn). We're verifying the identity of the small bright spot below Saturn...

eyesea: Are you guys computers? or humanoids?

Danielle: Well, speaking for myself, I'm a humanoid, last I checked. ;-)

ulysses: Ask does the ISS have an orbit over that crosses the poles?

Bill: No, the ISS orbit is inclined 51.6 degrees to the equator. It never crosses the poles.

fromastr: do asteroids any kind carry diamonds in them?

Bill: Not as far as we know. :)

Bill: On the view of Saturn: above, that small "bump" peeking over the upper left of Saturn: is one of its moons, Rhea. The moon Titan is off to the left.

rhn1818: What will these observations lead to?

Danielle: It allows us to directly determine the size and shape of 52 Europa at this instance in time. (It also allows us to extract the astrometric position of the asteroid)

dwh9866: why is Saturn so bright?

Bill: Because we have a big telescope and a very sensitive camera! We can't reduce the exposure enough to show Saturn clearly.

fromastr: so I’m pretty sure on this but this asteroid is not going to come near earth correct?

Bill: That's right -- it will remain in its orbit within the asteroid belt. Won't come anywhere near the Earth.

ZacharyTroxell: Why does Saturn & Titan appear bright white if that is not their color?

Bill: Because the camera is black and white, not color.

william17: is this asterioi a threat to earth anything?

Bill: No, no threat to Earth.

Jaucarree: ARE asteroids like stars? Unlimited and bright?

Bill: No. Asteroids are small, rocky bodies in the solar system with very definite limits and shine only by reflecting the light of the sun.

sliguy: hello?

Bill: Hi -- do you have a question?

william17: is this asteroid a threat to the earth in the future?

Bill: No threat.

rhn1818: How many Occultations has NASA observed? What discoveries have they led to?

Danielle: I'm not sure how many NASA has observed. But the Occultation of a bright star by the planet Uranus resulted in the discovery of its rings in 1977.

sciencedominates: How old is that light from Saturn?

Bill: The light is about 75 minutes old. It takes eight minutes for light to go one astronomical unit (AU), and Saturn: is 9.6 AUs away.

fromastr: what asteroid belt is this asteroid in?

Danielle: It's in the asteroid belt located just beyond the orbit of Mars.

ulysses: Do you know when the rings will be more perpendicular to earth or is this as pronounced as they get?

Bill: No it's not, but I don't know off-hand when the rings will be more exposed to the Earth.

sliguy: Is there such a planet named " planet X " ?

Bill: No, no planet X yet.

william17: Sorry for mistyping and typing my last question twice. What size is this asteroid?

Danielle: This asteroid has a diameter of about 218 miles, roughly the distance from Chicago to Detroit.

brandonshapiro: how do you land on an asteroid?

Bill: Very carefully! Seriously, asteroids have such low gravity that it's very easy to touch down on their surface as well as lift off. Too much thrust and you will find yourself going up rather than down.

littleon:e715: I'm in Florida not sure what part of the sky it will be viewable in with a telescope?

Danielle: Are you in northern Florida? You might have a shot at it. The target star is in the constellation Virgo.

sliguy: how many moons does Saturn have?

Bill: At least 62 satellites, the largest being Titan (which you can see in the feed above).

Space_Man: LOL. Do you guys ever get tired of getting asked if asteroids are threatening our planet any time soon? It's gotta get annoying.

Danielle: Just a bit. ;-) But really -- I'm glad people are interested in space science. :-)

dwh9866: When will we see it pass?

Bill: Asteroid 52 Europa will occult at approx. 11:05:30 EDT tonight.

Halfyre: Is it true the Milky Way's center is a black hole?

Bill: That's the current scientific opinion.

eaglesnebula: What do the counters on video represent?

Danielle: That's the GPS time stamp.

Jaucarree: I read earlier that asteroids are future planets... Is it true?

Bill: No, asteroids can get smaller by colliding with each other. Sometimes they might stick together, but they'll never get big enough to form planets.

AAHaulward: How are the apogee and perigee values of 52_Europa ?

Bill: 3.4 astronomical units (AUs) aphelion, and 2.8 AUs perihelion.

sliguy: how many miles from earth is Saturn?

Bill: 893 million miles from Earth.

fromastr: Oh wow that's interesting!

Bill: Yes, very!

brandonshapiro: Can you land on Saturn or does it not have a physical ground to land on?

Bill: Saturn's surface is liquid molecular hydrogen, so you'd need to bring a boat!

rhn1818: Why can't a New Yorker see the asteroid?

Danielle: It has to do with timing and geometry. For example, when an airplane flies directly between an observer on the Earth’s surface and the Sun, its shadow passes right over the observer, blocking the Sun’s light momentarily. The airplane has Occulted the Sun. If you move the observer just 100 meters away, the airplane’s shadow would miss the observer entirely. If the observer had arrived 30 sec later, he/she wouldn’t see the Occultation of the Sun by the plane. Timing and geometry aren't favorable for someone in New York to see the star dim because of 52 Europa this evening.

3.49amJokes: Won't 52 Europa pass in front other stars? Aren't there a lot of stars lining with its trajectory and Earth? If so why isn't there more Occultations?

Bill: There are hundreds of occultations per night, but we focus on the ones that involve stars we can see with our telescope, which are 12th magnitude and brighter.

pedro: Hey I missed the asteroid or not yet?

Bill: No, the occultation is at 11:05:30 p.m. EDT tonight.

blackmatter: Can we know the composition of the asteroid by the data received?

Bill: No, we can just determine its size and shape.

pedro: Hey Bill. I got missed the event or it is not yet??

Danielle: Don't worry, you haven't missed the Occultation. :-)

VEKTROID: I’m surprised the background is that dark... i feel foolish for asking but what kind of system are you doing to mitigate excess light? Is it a non-problem when you're magnifying the image to that extent or is the exposure just extremely low? I'm not too familiar with the kind of technology being used in modern observatories/telescopes.

Bill: The exposure is low and the telescope has a long focal length which contributes to the background being dark.

nasa_kid: Is it just my computer or is the screen going blank?

Bill: it's not your computer -- we're adjusting various views.

mghklm: How long now till the occulation?

Bill: It will be at 11:05:30 EDT tonight.

fromastr: how fast is the asteroid moving right now?

Bill: About 19.7 kilometers/second, or 44,000 mph.

Patcher24: I'm not seeing anything on the Ustream!

Bill: That's because the Occultation is at 11:05:30 EDT tonight. We'll be shifting views in the sky until then.

jazofscience: Can comets cause Occultations? What about Mercury?

Danielle: If the comet was active, only its nucleus could. Yes, Mercury can.

VEKTROID: What kind of system is being used to calculate the asteroid's actual size? It seems that it would be simple, assuming you can capture the accurately.

Bill: The numbers at the bottom of the feed are gps time signals and we'll use this to tell how long the star's light is dimmed by the asteroid.

rhn1818: Who chooses the names for the celestrial bodies?

Danielle: After discovery, asteroids generally receive a provisional designation (based on the year of observation), then a number, and finally (optionally) a name, in that order. In modern times, an asteroid receives a sequential number only after its orbit is precisely known. Until that time, they are only known by their provisional designation.

sciencedominates: How is imagery data processed? Universities get the raw data from NASA and then extract the visuals from it? Or what is the time line or trail from orbiter to university website I guess.

Bill: We store the video to disk and use software to measure the star brightness in each frame of the video. We then use the GPS time stamp to associate a time to each frame.

Dimitris_Xrist: which is the biggest asteroid you have ever seen??

Bill: Ceres, through my little 8" telescope.

Mumerner6185: What do the numbers at the bottom of the screen mean?

Danielle: That's just the GPS time stamp.

h4nier: Yay finally it let me in!

Bill: Welcome. :)

tanya_lall: Can I see the Occultations here in India?

Bill: No, unfortunately India isn't in the path of this one. If it were, we couldn't see it here.

greengreens: Why the cam do so many zoom in and zoom backs ???

Bill: Because the person in the observatory likes to play with the exposure. :) (Like now....)

erikhampshire: Which is the star TYC 0292-00339-1?

Bill: That's not visible right now -- most of our views right now are of Saturn: and a couple of its moons, Titan and Rhea.

saturn: why do you need to adjust the telescope?

Danielle: The Earth is rotating (and revolving) so we've got to move the telescope to compensate. Same thing for moving objects. If you are talking about the adjustments that have been happening in the video stream, we've been trying to adjust the exposure and the focus, etc.

Patcher24: Its 11:10 here in Nova Scotia. What time will it be here when the Occultation happens?

Bill: Just past midnight your local time, about 12:05.

3.49amJokes: Do you have a lower quality stream because I have slow internet so the video is lagging :P If so can you give us a link please?

Bill: Sorry, we don't have one at a lower resolution -- only because you couldn't see the definition of the star at anything lower.

h4nier: What are some good binoculars you can recommend for a night sky watcher/ someone who is young and planning to learn more about astronomy in the near future?

Danielle: 7x50s, 11x80s are good. 7x35s are not so good.

erikhampshire: Where is posisionated the star TYC 0292-00339-1 in the screen?

Bill: In the center of the screen now -- we've left Saturn for now. :)

jazofscience: Do NASA workers commonly ask people questions or are you being envied right now by fellow workers?

Bill: We get asked questions all the time. Sometimes we have answers! :)

astroguyz: Unfortunately, we've got a storm brewing in southern Pasco county that’s keeping me from setting gear out; had a good pass of the ISS with a fireworks show, though!

Danielle: Sorry to hear about the weather! But at least ISS put on a good show. Happy 4th!

giselamj: Hello everyone I’m from Venezuela.. I will be a silent reader. Thanks for sharing all this info.

Bill: Welcome Venezuela! Glad you can join us.

3.49amJokes: Where is the Occultation visible from? Besides Northern America?

Bill: You can see a map on this page, near the bottom. The path is highlighted: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/europa_feature.html >

Mumerner6185: How come we can't see the Occultations with the naked eye? Is it too small or too far away?

Bill: Because the star is too faint to be seen with the unaided eye.

Jaucarree: What will we see on the screen when the Occultation happens?

Danielle: We will see a star. Then the star will begin to dim. And then roughly 17s later, the star will be back to full brightness.

Moderator Jason: We've had some great questions so far. Do you have one you've been waiting to ask? Ask it now! Type it out below the chat window, then submit it by clicking the 'Ask' button on the lower right. Thanks!

william17: So I presume I can't view this in Sweden? :)

Bill: Hello Sweden -- sorry, not viewable from there!

giselamj: will be able to see ocultation in Venezuela?

Bill: Sorry, no view from there...

MH: Who is controlling the telescope?

Danielle: One of our team here at Marshall Space Flight Center.

longbow986: Hello, will the occulation occur in the same region of sky as Saturn is here?

Bill: It will be shown on the feed when available -- but it's not near Saturn. :)

eyesea: WELLL SAID BILL

Bill: Thank you!

giselamj: Thank Bill: .. I will keep reading. :)

Bill: Please do, and ask questions if you feel like it.

blackmatter: 3 families will monitor with you from Israel on that one :) tnx for the great stream.

Danielle: Thanks for joining us! :-)

ZacharyTroxell: In 1977 an occulation allowed us to discover Uranus' rings. Since then our technology has advanced... so how many planets do we know of outside of our solar system have rings? Have we used occulations to find any other ringed planets?

Bill: We know of no planets outside the solar system with rings, though they undoubtedly exist. Technology used to detect extra-solar planets doesn't permit the detection of ring systems.

lisa: I am so excited. Thank you for streaming this.

Bill: You're welcome!

erikhampshire: Could they make a zoom in to the star? Or maybe make a zoom to another planet?

Bill: We're on the star now...

mannu: hiiiiiiiiiiiiii

Bill: Greetings...

MH: Are we going to see an object with some definition? Or is it just going to be a light disappearing for a little while? Not to take away from the importance of the data you get from this or anything...

Bill: Just a light dimming for a short while, about 18 seconds.

eyesea: Sometimes we have answers -- haha!

Bill: Sometimes we do. :)

drlove: Can I see the Occultations here in Dominican Republic, in the North of the Country???

Danielle: No, sorry. :-( See
http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/europa_feature.html for a map.

william17: At what time GMT+1 will it be visible?

Bill: 4:05 a.m. GMT +1, 3:05 a.m GMT

Space_Man: And also just wanted to say happy fourth to you and yours! Thanks for taking your time to chat with us and all. :D

Bill: Happy 4th -- glad you're here.

Halfyre: Do you do these streams often or is this the first time?

Danielle: The video streams? We've streamed a couple of meteor showers, the last being in December of last year.

ZacharyTroxell: Can you tell us anything about the direction, degree, and angle the asteroid is traveling? How long is its orbit?

Bill: It's orbiting with all the other asteroids in the asteroid belt. You can look up all the information on the asteroid's motion from the JPL Horizons Web site: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/

rhn1818: Have you been in outer space before?

Bill: No, and no plans to go. :)

Dan:o: Hello from Jupiter, Florida :) At what time will this event take place?

Danielle: Hi there! Around 11:05 EDT.

rhn1818: Is there any possibly exciting stuff on the asteroid?

Danielle: I think all asteroids are exciting. :-) This is one of the bigger ones out there.

Walter_C: I am in Coastal Georgia in the path of the Occultion (sp?) but can't get to an area dark enough to set up in time. Our local club has some folks out though. Thanks for the feed.

Danielle: Sorry the timing isn't working out for you. But I hope you enjoy the feed!

astroguyz: Am curious; what’s the approx field of view of the live stream in arc seconds/minutes?

Danielle: For the Occultation it'll be a 20 arc minute field of view.

BoB_SharK: I wanted to know about the asteroid that just missed earth a week or so ago... several scientist said it would have broken up in the atmosphere and not done damage and I think that is a very miss leading statement. Are all the meteorites we find in Antartica starting off bigger that that one??? (I don't think so) Didn't the 1908 even in Siberia never hit the ground but was like an atomic bomb wiping miles of trees flat????

Bill: Yes, but the asteroid that flew by a few days ago was about 20 yards across and the atmosphere would have broken it apart long before it hit the ground. You're correct that fragments -- meteorites -- could have made it to the ground and caused minor property damage, but this isn't catastrophic in the sense of entire cities being destroyed. The 1908 event in Siberia was a once-in-several-centuries occurence, so I think the odds are small that an asteroid will inflict major damage in the near future.

toointer: UTC ?

Danielle: Coordinated Universal Time

Walter_C: Is this camera powerful enough to see Europa?

Bill: No, it's not.

lisa: I hope you will continue to stream. People like me who aren't in the field really appreciate this.

Bill: And we appreciate you being here. Glad to do it.

giselamj: The star now is looking a bit brighter..

Bill: It's flickering due to atmospheric scintillation.

astroguyz: Thanks; I imagine the Occulting asteroid is too faint to spot in the field prior to the event, correct?

Danielle: That's correct. 52 Europa is 12.1 mag.

ulysses: If you could please do more of the streaming! If you could and record them for those not inclind to be up late thanks!

Bill: We have confirmation that this will replay on our Ustream channel after the event.

Jaucarree: How much damage it would causes if an asteroid entered the atmosphere?

Bill: Any asteroid smaller than a football field will be broken apart in the atmosphere unless it's made of iron.

Daniel: I want to see Saturn.

Bill: We'll be remaining on the star in the feed until the Occultation is over. Then maybe back to Saturn!

littleon:e715: Do you know when and where the data results will be published for tonight’s Occultation

Danielle: I believe it will take several days for results to be published. You'll need to check IOTA's website, http://www.Occultations.org, I believe.

WestCarrolltonAstro: Could you describe the telescope being used and the imaging device - thanks!

Bill: The telescope is 14" Celestron on a Paramount with a Watec 902H2 Ultimate Video camera. Time stamp is provided by a Kiwi GPS encoder.

AAHaulward: Will any observatory in orbit (earth or other) collect data about this occultation?

Bill: Other observers with telescopes in this path will be observing this event.

ZacharyTroxell: This is just for the other users in the chat. The link you presented earlier is excellent: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/. I suggest anyone to look up 52 Europa in the small-body database section.

Bill: Thanks, Zachary.

rhn1818: How can astronomers determine what a specific asteroid is made of?

Bill: By analyzing its light in a spectroscope we can get some idea of its composition. You can tell lots by looking at colors.

Mumerner6185: One more question. What are the educational requirements for an astronomer? I'm 13 so I am thinking of becoming one.

Bill: You need LOTS of math

Moderator Jason: Got a question? We've got answers! Ask you question by typing it out below the chat window and clicking the 'Ask' button to submit it! Thanks!

Jaucarree: Is there any photos of an asteroid that have already hitted earth?

Danielle: Most photos we have are of the craters left behind. ;-)

rhn1818: Why were there times when the telescope focused on Saturn?

Bill: Saturn was visible and we thought it would be a good object to put in the field while we're waiting for the Occultation.

Dan:o: I’ve been wanting to ask a professional opinion on telescopes. What scope would be best for viewing the planets and deep sky objects with a budget of say $300-$600?

Bill: http://www.telescopes.com/ and http://www.astronomics.com/main/Telescopes_and_Telescope_Accessories.asp/catalog_name/Astronomics/category_name/Home/Page/1 have many telescopes from good manufacturers in the price range you mention.

antito: what time exactly will this happen?

Bill: 11:05:30 p.m. EDT.

hadronichorizon: thanking for showing Saturn! :)

Bill: You're welcome. :)

Mumerner6185: The asteroid is in our solar system correct?

Bill: Yes, it's definitely in our solar system.

3.49amJokes: We know that asteroids can have irregular shapes, so what if 52 Europa was in an orientation that would make it smaller than it is? Like measuring the width instead of length? How do you know which face of it is pointing to us?

Danielle: With this Occultation we only get the size/shape of the asteroid in 1 instant of time. If the Occultation had occured earlier or later a different shape would be revealed (since the asteroid rotates). So the resulting shape is only 2 dimensional. Additional Occultations of the same asteroid are required in order to reveal more about the 3 dimensional shape.

AAHaulward: I mean will telescopes in the earth orbit or solar orbit, etc observe this event, since atmospheric effects will damage the data that is collected via the observatories on earth a bit?

Bill: No, it would be hard to observe an Occultation like this with an orbiting telescope as the telescope would be in motion as well. Better to observe from the ground and the atmospheric effect -- scintillation -- won't significantly affect the timing measurements, which is what is important in measuring the size.

astroguyz: Where is the scope running the feed located?

Bill: At Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

rhn1818: What other planets are visible now?

Bill: In the skies, Saturn and Mercury, and Mercury is very low on the horizon.

Dimitris_Xrist: What are exactly asteroids!!! And sorry before for my behavior.. :/

Bill: Asteroids are small, rocky bodies orbiting the sun. Thanks for your question, Dimitris. :)

antito: thanks! :D

Bill: Welcome!

jayyousi101: is it going to hit earth?

Bill: No, the Earth is safe from this.

giselamj: Do you have idea of the orbit of this asteroid? Or its path?

Bill: Yes, the orbit is well-determined. You can go here for the orbit: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/

Mumerner6185: Could we view another asteroid in another solar system with our current telescopes?

Bill: No, not another solar system.

rhn1818: Thank you. I am learning so much!

Rhiannon: You are so welcome! We enjoy this, too.

jayyousi101: When are we going to see it?

Rhiannon: In less than 25 minutes! Stay tuned.

3.49amJokes: Can you measure all of the asteroid's dimensions when the Occultation occurs?

Bill: By combining the data from observers all along the path, we can get an idea of the shape.

dwh9866: So if this was coming at us it would be too late before we found out right?

Rhiannon: This asteroid is about 353km across, we can detect objects this large faaaaar before they were near earth.

Timmy: is it viewable from the northeastern U.S. specifically Pennsylvania?

Bill: Here's a map, near the bottom of this link: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/europa_feature.html

h4nier: what are the best colleges / universities to go to for someone that is planning on double majoring in astronomy/ physics?

Bill: There are many in the U.S. I went to Valdosta State University in South Georgia for my undergrad degree in astronomy and physics, and the University of Florida for my graduate work in astronomy.

giselamj: Thank you Bill: gonna check the link

Bill: Please do -- I think you'll find it helpful.

Dan: What is the probability that MSFC will get an Occultation 100%? These tracks tends to shift around ...

Rhiannon: MSFC is in the middle of the shadow path which gives us a very very good chance.

Derian: Does this asteroid pose as any risk to Earth?

Rhiannon: This asteroid will not come anywhere near Earth. No worries! :)

Dimitris_Xrist: How the asteroids created??? By bing bang??

Bill: Asteroids are primitive bodies left over from the solar system's formation, which happened billions of years after the Big Bang.

rhn1818: Can asteroids or comets revolve while traveling through space?

Rhiannon: Absolutely. In fact the Meteoroid Environment Office has measured rotation periods of asteroids before.

Walter_C: For the person who was asking about telescopes: you may want to find a local astronomy club (if there is one) and ask some of the members to let you look through some of their scopes. You can get a good idea of what you would like and what you must have.

Rhiannon: Absolutely! Astronomy clubs are all over the place and a ton of fun to join.

engineer_scott: Can a ham radio operator like myself bounce a signal off such an asteroid, how long would a signal take to go the 200 nplus million miles??

Bill: No, your transmitter doesn't have enough power. Even the giant Arecibo radio telescope can only bounce radio signals off asteroids that pass very close to Earth.

jayyousi101: very cool, thank you!

Bill: You're welcome.

Jaucarree: asteroids turns around their selves or anything else? Or they're just fix rocks?

Rhiannon: As they are orbiting around our solar system, they are also rotating on the order of days or hours.

matsi: My 7 year old daughter stayed up to watch this event with me and wants me to ask you how hot does an asteroid get?

Bill: Thanks for staying up -- that's dedication. :) Asteroids in the asteroid belt are very cold -- hundreds of degrees below zero. So they're not hot at all.

engineer_scott: So the asteroid is between Venus and Earth??

Rhiannon: No, between Mars and Jupiter. That is where the asteroid belt is.

erikhampshire: When is some asteroid going to hit the Earth?

Bill: Fortunately, we know of no asteroid that's going to hit the Earth.

Mumerner6185: Thank you for answering our questions. I have never seen anything like this before!

Bill: We're happy to answer your questions.

Derian: How close will this asteroid come to Earth?

Bill: No closer than 280 million miles.

dave128: Approximately how far from Earth will the asteroid be when the Occultation takes place?

Bill: 280 million miles away.

jayyousi101: Are you an astronomer?

Rhiannon: We all work for the Meteoroid Environment Office! Personally I got an undergraduate degree in astrophysics and my MSc in Astronomy.

Space_Man: How old do we think the universe is? For that matter our solar system as well. How do we try to calculate this?

Bill: About 15 billion years old for the universe, about 5 billion for our solar system.

jeff44663: Will it be possible to obtain any information about 52 Europa's composition from observing this Occultation, or just its size?

Bill: No, just its size.

Mumerner6185: I have seen the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico. So that radio telescope can not detect this asteroid correct?

Bill: No, it's too far away.

matsi: Thank you.... You made her night. :)

Bill: She's more than welcome. :)

amunnubz: How much time is the Occultation expected to actually last, and how much information do you think you can get with that much (or little) time?

Rhiannon: The Occultation will last about 17.9 seconds (which is fairly long, relatively speaking!). When we figure out the exact time of the Occultation we will be able to find the asteroids size.

astroguyz: Rain procluding scope setup here in Hudson, Florida- wouldn't have time to setup/familiarize myself with the field at this point.

Rhiannon: Good thing we have a live feed so you can still see the event. ;-)

canada_user: At this distance, how long is the rotation around the Sun I.E. his year compared to our 365 days?

Bill: 52 Europa takes 5.46 years to go around the sun.

amunnubz: Thanks for having this session. As a prospective astronomer in junior year of Undergrad (probably going to spend many more years in college pursuing some sort of doctorate), this is really heartwarming to see. And a lot of people are here too!

Bill: We're glad to have you here, and you're very welcome. It's great that we have such a good turnout.

seb: Which observatory is used for the measurement?

Rhiannon: The observatory the live-stream is from is at Marshall Space Flight Center!

Dan: Are you here using one of the telescopes normally employed to monitor the Moon for impact flashes?

Rhiannon: You bet! One of our 14" telescopes.

Bill: Hey everyone -- just a heads-up that we have about 15 more minutes until the Occultation occurs. If you can see the star on the stream above, then you can see this event. We're crossing our fingers that the clouds stay away!

jwhite: When will this happen??

Rhiannon: The event is only 13 minutes away! Exciting :)

erikhampshire: What another events like this, would be visible?

Bill: On this page: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/europa_feature.html, scroll down and then visit the IOTA Web site listed on the page.

jwhite: How often do these type of event occur?

Bill: Many times during the year.

antito: Cool!! :D

Bill: Indeed. :)

giselamj: Yes I just see a tiny dot at this moment! :D

Bill: Good, that's the star you're seeing.

Al_Kaholic: Approximately how fast will this asteroid be travelling?

Bill: 19.6 km/second, or 44,000 mph, relative to Earth.

engineer_scott: Any hams out there wanna talk about this on 20 meters, 14.323 usb

amunnubz: What does the event appear like? I'm picturing something either along the lines of an eclipse or a view of a planet such as Mercury or Venus passing in front of the Sun. Hope I'm not too far off, that'd look really cool.

Bill: Imagine a star which is nothing more than a point in space and an asteroid moves between you and that star. It will block the light from that star for a short period of time, and that's what this event is like.

Derian: Thanks Rhiannon:-this had me worried for a while.

Rhiannon: No need to worry! Just enjoy observing!

jayyousi101: what is the speed of this thing and in what direction is it heading to?

Bill: 44,000 mph for the speed, relative to Earth.

astroguyz: Y'know, zooming in on the target star, I can see a fainter point at about a 45 deg position angle during moments of steady seeing... wonder if it isn't 52 Eudora? PA is correct...

Rhiannon: We cannot see it on our 14" scope here. What size is your scope?

Dan: The star to be Occulted is just a simple single star? So no complicated ingress/egress effects to be expected?

Bill: As far as we know -- should be pretty straightforward.

engineer_scott: Can the crew of the ISS see this with the naked eye. By the way, I am ke6vus…my ham call.

Bill: No, the star is too faint.

antito: But exactly what are going to see?

Rhiannon: The star in the middle of the field of view of the U-stream is going to dim for about 17-18 seconds. That will be from the asteroid passing in front of it.

greengreens: SALUDOS!!! FROM MEXICO!!! (Tampico City)

Bill: Greetings, Mexico! Glad to have you here.

engineer_scott: Is the crew on the ISS using any equipment to measure, monitor the event?

Bill: No, they're not monitoring. They couldn't see it even if they wanted to -- they don't have a telescope onboard.

Occult: So are we waiting for this white dot to disappear?

Bill: To get dimmer -- it may completely disappear, depending on sky conditions at the time.

Bill: We're about six minutes from the Occultation, so start watching the stream above...

engineer_scott: How long till the event??

Bill: About six more minutes.

canada_user: How many telescopes will be used to monitor and analyze this event? And, is there any in Canada that will be used? I suppose that the more there is, the more detailed the results will be, I know very little about astronomy.

Rhiannon: Absolutely. The more observers of these Occultations, the better the calculations will be. Occultations are very easy to observe with a telescope and provide very helpful information. We only have one telescope at Marshall Space Flight Center on it, however the IOTA may be collecting data from many telescopes all over the shadow path.

astroguyz: I'm watching the Ustream feed; when I zoom full screen, I get a flash of a fainter point next to the star...I guess we'll know if it moves shortly...

Bill: Yes, keep watching -- we're getting close.

jayyousi101: when are we going to see the star passing?

Bill: About five more minutes now...

amunnubz: I hope those screen blotches aren't clouds, I'd be super bummed if this doesn't end up working out!

Rhiannon: Our skies are looking pretty good right now... hopefully there are not any little clouds that will wreck the seeing!

jwhite: Where is MSFC?

Rhiannon: Huntsville, Alabama!

Bill: In this feed, you can't see the asteroid, just the star, which will dim as the Occultation occurs. About five more minutes, so be watching...

Sarah: Hello

Bill: Hi Sarah: -- welcome.

astroguyz: 52 Europa, I mean... (got a previous Occultation on the brain!)

Bill: We knew what you meant. :)

Timmy: What time is the Occultation to occur again? 11:05?

Bill: Yes, 11:05:30 p.m. EDT, roughly.

Walter_C: David Dunham of IOTA was going to visit us this weekend, but, it didn't work out for him. I think there were some folks in SC and here in GA sending in reports.

Rhiannon: Great!

engineer_scott: can Hubble see it happen?

Bill: No.

greengreens: Is this fading caused by the asteroid's own light replacing the light of the brighter star??? isn´t it?

Bill: Yes, that's right. The asteroid is 2 mags fainter than the star, and that's why it will dim.

nkiller: I’m in Argentina. We can’t see it?

Bill: Hi Argentina, sorry, no view there.

Sarah: where is Occultation gonna happin?

Rhiannon: The Occultation will be seen all across America. If you mean in our field of view, it is the bright star in the middle.

Matt_H: This is great you guys are doing this, never seen something like this before. Do you guys do these live astronomical event showings often?

Bill: Not very often, but we're happy to do them.

JamesCVA: Hello, enjoying the show from Alexandria, Virginia.

Bill: Greetings Virginia! Glad to have you here.

lisa: Why can't Hubble see it?

Bill: Because it's on the other side of Earth.

jazofscience: Predict what the size will be? 20 m. across?

Rhiannon: 52 Europa is around 350 km across.

Bill: OK, two minutes to go. We're going to pause in answering questions so you can watch the event on the feed. Here we go...

Bill: The star is scintillating...

Bill: It's gone!

Bill: Watch for reappearance...

Bill: Watching...

Bill: The star is back visible on the feed. Okay...we had a darn patch of clouds right at the event time that dimmed the star out. So we'll have to sort through data to see what's cloud and what's asteroid. What are the odds? :)

Acuzio: Seems the star got camera shy

Bill: More likely the cloud. :)

Dan: Now it's back - were there clouds?

Bill: The premature dimming was due to a cloud passing. We'll look at the data and see if we can separate out the cloud from the asteroid.

kc5vkg: That seemed to last a lot longer than the predicted 17 seconds....

Rhiannon: Yup. We had a very very unfortunate cloud come in front of the star right before the event. We are going to try to salvage the data.

Mumerner6185: Thank you for the stream. Sorry about the cloud. I'm 13 so I'm very inspired. Very fun to watch thank you again.

Rhiannon: I’m glad you still enjoyed it! Keep tuned since we will still try to analyze the data over the next couple days and figure out whether we can tell what was the cloud and what was the asteroid.

3.49amJokes: so when do we get the results??

Bill: Check the IOTA Web site in a few days -- other observers may not have had clouds.

lisa: How can we find out what your conclusion is?

Rhiannon: Check the IOTA's website in a couple days.

Pantokraterix: I think it's still pretty amazing we can see it at all, from home on our computers! Thanks for giving us the opportunity.

Bill: You're welcome -- welcome to real-time astronomy. :)

longbow986: I know it’s still an observation that involves measurements and scientific data to calculate, but still, to witness an event like this still is breathtaking isn’t it?

Rhiannon: We still stand amazed. We love what we study and love sharing it.

_captainturk: What do you hope to learn from this event tonight?

Bill: The size and shape of the asteroid 52 Europa.

artgom: From Cerro Tololo, Chile.... Fantastic !!!!! Spectacular !!!! Congratulations!

Bill: Welcome, Cerro Tololo! Glad you observed with us.

Jaucarree: That was just amazing ! thank you so much ...

Bill: Our pleasure!

NiwatiX: Thanks for the stream, very interesting. Can't wait to see the results in few days!

Bill: It should be interesting.

amunnubz: Other places are recording as well, correct? If nothing else you can compare data with them, the more views the better. :)

Rhiannon: Absolutely! We still have hope that there were many other observers looking at this event in other locations without clouds!

astroguyz: Thanks for running this feed; was fun to watch, especially since I was clouded out here at Astroguyz: HQ!!!

Bill: You're welcome -- sorry about your clouds!

jcuervo: hello fron Colombia

Bill: Greetings Colombia!

Dan:o: Thank you for the live feed and all the interesting facts!

Rhiannon: You are so welcome. We will still take more questions if you have them!

Matt_H: Glad NASA retweeted you and I caught this. You now have a new twitter follower! Look forward to seeing the results of the cloud impact.

Bill: Yes, we'll be interested to see that, too.

Mumerner6185: Signing off from Virginia thanks again.

Bill: G'night Virginia.

lisa: Thank you

Bill: Very welcome.

littleon:e715: Even with the cloud getting in the way it was still great watching it. I am interested in seeing more events like this.

Rhiannon: Keep your eye on http://nasa.gov/>. These chats happen regularly on all different topics!

nkiller: wow incredible... I’m a biologist but this is great too. Congrats!!!

Bill: Thank you -- glad to have you here.

jayyousi101: Jay from Michigan, Detroit

Bill: Hello Jay...

Al_Kaholic: From Newfoundland, Canada-thanks for this. Absolutely amazing.

Rhiannon: You are welcome! I lived in London, Ontario for the last 6 years - belated Happy Canada Day.

Bill: How about we switch back to Saturn for a few minutes? We have some storms on the way, so we'll shut down soon.

diwakara: hello from Australia , it was spectacular did it go longer than the estimated time for Occultation?

Bill: Hi Australia! It's hard to tell since we had an attention-hogging cloud -- we'll have to look at the data.

Timmy: Thanks for the opportunity

Bill: Our pleasure.

hadronichorizon: my computer shut down right after the scentallation started! aaawwweeee! Still awesome though!

Bill: We should have this recorded and replaying on the Ustream feed soon.

igornp11: Hello! My name is Igor I'm from Brazil, ohhh my gosh , it's amazing ! thanks for this moment!

Bill: Thanks for checking in from Brazil!

lacpuppydog: Can you tell us what the size of the asteroid is compared to the size of the star?

Rhiannon: The size of the asteroid is about 353 km, the star is much much larger though we aren't sure of the exact size. The star may not have been measured... too many stars in the sky!

rhn1818: I loved this! What cloud could have passed in front of the star?

Bill: The cloud was in Earth's atmosphere and it was MOST annoying. :)

3.49amJokes: Heyy we're back at Saturn! :D

Rhiannon: We were for a bit! But we are struggling with clouds over here.

Mila: I love seeing Saturn. When is it possible to see Jupiter or Mars?

Bill: Check the Web for the answer to your question. Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune are morning objects right now. Mars is close to the sun.

Joel: do you know of any other sources for webinars, or lectures online about events like these?

Rhiannon:
http://nasa.gov/>Keep your eye on this!

Walter_C: Thanks for sharing!

Bill: Absolutely. :)

Timmy: I see this all the time through my telescope :)

Bill: Congratulations -- here's to clear skies.

brian_ch: The clouds proved the Murphy's law. Hehe

Bill: Yes, they did!

Amy: Just a quick question, if you have the time. How do you name asteroids and what are the different types of asteroids? Thanks so much!

Rhiannon: The International Astronomical Union names asteroids based on the recommendation of the discoverer.

3.49amJokes: The clouds give a nice effect for Saturn when they pass!

Bill: Yes, we have some storms moving into the area.

lacpuppydog: Thanks for your answer Rhiannon:, this has been very interesting to watch:)

Rhiannon: So glad you enjoyed it! We love doing these events.

rhn1818: One last question: where can we learn more about this event?

Bill: This would be a good Web site for that:
http://asteroidOccultation.com/>

jayyousi101: what type of telescope are you using for this?

Rhiannon: A 14" scope in our observatory here at Marshall Space Flight Center.

Student: When exactly is it going to happen? I can't see anything.

Bill: It's already happened, but you can catch the replay on Ustream.

aldapamo: Saturn?

Rhiannon: Yup! And Titan, its largest moon, is to the left of it shining bright. And Rhea, another moon, is sliiightly peaking out behind Saturn.

Bill: On the feed, if you were watching earlier, notice that the moon Rhea -- up and to the left of Saturn: -- has changed position from earlier, illustrating its movement.

Student: Are we going to have audio?

Bill: Sorry, no audio on this one.

Dan:o: Great Saturn view! Love it!

Bill: Good news -- the Saturn: feed will also be recorded and part of the Ustream loop.

jayyousi101: thanks for the answer.

Bill: My pleasure.

greengreens: Over ???

Rhiannon: The Occultation event is over, but we can still answer your questions and you can look at Saturn for now!

Veronica: It already happened?

Bill: It did, at 11:05 p.m. EDT, but you can see it on the Ustream loop.

AlliedSignal: Jersey in the house...

Bill: Hello Jersey!

Moderator Jason: Just because the Occultation is over, doesn't mean we're done answering your questions. Ask one now! Type it in the box at the bottom of the chat window and hit 'Ask' to submit it!

leon: how many light years away is this star from the earth? and can this affect the measurements?

Bill: We're not sure -- we haven't measured that, and no, it doesn't affect the measurements because the star is many light years away and at that distance, it simply doesn't matter. It's a point source, which is all we need.

Ashby: Which star is being occulated on the feed then?

Rhiannon: The star was in the constellation virgo, but that event is now over and we are trying to watch Saturn: for a bit though poor weather is coming in.

giselamj: Saturn looks incredible.. I have been reading a lot at this site about Saturn. Is such an unique and peculiar planet.

Rhiannon: Indeed. And such a gorgeous ring system!

amunnubz: I should have informed my professor about this, we have a 16" telescope here at the college. This is still really cool though. Be sure to announce when it starts!

Bill: Thanks! Can you please contact Janet Anderson, listed at the bottom of the page? We'd like to feature you if your college streams future events.

tanya_lall: is the surface of Saturn solid

Rhiannon: No, Saturn is a gas planet.

Jaucarree: How many times the same asteroid repeats the same trajectory /year ? or it doesn’t?

Bill: The asteroid completes one orbit of the sun in 5.6 years, so it comes back to the same point every 5.6 years.

craig.g: G'day Bill, daytime here in the land down under but enjoying the live feed!

Bill: Glad to hear that!

TonyL: Is the definition of Occultation then basically the blocking of the star's light?

Rhiannon: An Occultation is when one body 'passes in front of' or 'covers' another body.

jeffPROV: how many moons does Saturn have?

Rhiannon: At least 62!

Ashby: Is there anywhere that we can go to rewatch the occulation?

Bill: Yes, you can see this looped on the Ustream feed listed above.

tanya_lall: is the surface of Saturn solid

Bill: No, liquid metallic hydrogen.

giselamj: omg 353 kms. I am making my comparisons with distances here in Venezuela. Wow this is a huge asteroid!

Rhiannon: Yup! 7th largest asteroid by volume.

igornp11: I love astronomy, and i want start study this events! This area is amazing ! Can I have any contact with you?

Bill: Go to
http://www.nasa.gov/offices/meo/home/index.html and you can find my email address there.

ilikepie0607: if someone were looking at the constellation during the occulation, would they notice that one of the stars disappeared?

Bill: No, the star is too faint to be seen with the unaided eye, so the constellation would appear to be the same.

666Occult666: UWO in the house, what what!

Rhiannon: Go Mustangs!

Ashby: Where is a good place we caN GO TO BE NOTIFIED OF EVENTS LIKE THIS?

Bill: You can find Occultation predictions at: http://asteroidOccultation.com/

ilikepie0607: are there any other things that we can be shown that won't be covered up by the cloud?

Rhiannon: We had to close the telescope since bad weather is rolling in!

igornp11: Thanks Bill, I want meet more of this events ! I loved this moment!

Bill: Great! You can also check this page to see when we have future live chats planned: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/index.html

AAHaulward: Thanks very much to NASA for making this possible for people to observe that fabulous event and Scientists Bill, Danielle, Jason and Rhiannon for providing information throughout the event.

Rhiannon: We enjoyed it! Thanks for coming!

Pang: Thank you so much for the live feed and providing this chat. It was cloudy here in Kansas, and i did not have access to a telescope. And thanks to www.spaceweather.com for letting me know about this. I will definitely be checking out the

Bill: You're welcome!

KateTheGrey: would there be any use for video taken by amateurs? I took video from my 16" Meade Lightbridge. It's quite clear here so no major clouds.

Bill: You can send your video to the International Occultation Timing Association. Their Web site: http://www.asteroidOccultation.com/observations/NA/

brewy:1 thanks for the feed it was great!!!

Bill: Glad to have you here.

loudman: I want a good telescope but don’t know what kind to get I wanna see the other planets

Rhiannon: We can see most planets with our naked-eye! Saturn is beautiful in the evening right now while Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are currently morning-planets.

jeffPROV: any information on what happened in a large crater in Mimas?

Bill: Sorry, not my area of expertise!

666Occult666: Thanks! That was really cool!

Rhiannon: :) glad you enjoyed it

igornp11: I surely want participate of more events like this! Thanks NASA for this Chat!

Bill: You're welcome -- we'll see you next time.

jeffPROV: well thanks very much to your answers i really appreciated it..!!! till next time Bill, Jason, Rhiannon & Danielle-------> jeff from Philippines

Bill: Thanks for checking in, Jeff -- we'll see you next time!

giselamj: well I have enjoyed this event and the chat as well ! Keep us informed about future events! Thanks Bill, Jason, Rhianon and Danielle , thanks NASA to make this possible for so many people :)) saludos from Venezuela;) have a good night .. :)) see you soon

Rhiannon: Saludos! Good night.

jeffPROV: By the way when can we chat all of you guys again?

Rhiannon: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/index.html. Keep your eye on this! These chats occur regularly on all different topics.

taninha_Brazil: I don't understand. We've seen the asteroid passing in front of Saturn ?

Rhiannon: No. The asteroid passed in front of a star. We looked at Saturn just for fun!

igornp11: Events like this always happen?

Bill: Yes, somewhere on Earth, often.

Matt_H: Do you guys work for NASA?

Rhiannon: Yes. We all work for the Meteoroid Environment Office: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/meo/home/index.html!

Student: I mean a replay of the event

Bill: Yes, the replay is up on the Ustream link listed above.

igornp11: What's the importance of event like this to you?

Rhiannon: We collect data to submit to the IOTA so that they can determine the shape and size of the asteroid. We act as observers for them. (But this is not the only thing we do!)

Moderator Jason: We're going to be wrapping up here soon. Ask your final questions...

Bill: Hey everyone. Thanks again for the great participation here on a holiday. Please view the replay on Ustream. We're getting ready to finish up the chat. Have a terrific rest of the weekend.

Matt_H: Got a question about the education needed for the job. I basically flipped a coin going into college between Astronomy and Meteorology and chose the latter because it seemed like you needed to get a PHD in Astronomy to get a job anywhere. Do you guys need PHDs to work there?

Rhiannon: Not necessarily. I just have my MSc. And there are others who got a job at NASA after their undergraduate degree. Bill (who is our team lead) has a PhD.

jeffPROV: good day..!! thanks guys..!! =)

Bill: Have a great evening!

Moderator Jason: Thanks everyone for joining us. We enjoyed hosting this for everyone and hope you'll join us in the future. Check out upcoming chats at http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/index.html. We'll post a transcript of this chat within a few business days.

Ashby: Thank you for that last question! I'm in the same situation! Good Night from Bermuda!

Rhiannon: Goodnight! :)

Moderator Jason: Thanks to Bill, Danielle, and Rhiannon for answering all the questions tonight. We're glad they took time out of their schedules to join us! Thanks!
 
 

Janet Anderson, 256-544-0034
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Janet.L.Anderson@nasa.gov