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December 1998

Lowell Observatory Astronomer to Discuss Stellar Occultations at Dec. 16 Meeting

by George Best
December Meeting

Cathy Olkin,
Postdoctoral Fellow,
Lowell Observatory>
Wednesday, December 16
7:30 p.m.

A-102 Astronomy Building
University of Washington

Come early at 7 p.m. to visit
with your fellow members

Bring your slides to show
after the program

In June 1988 teams of astronomers watched Pluto briefly hide a 12th magnitude star. During the occultation, the star seemed to disappear behind the planet and then reappear gradually, not abruptly. This signaled to astronomers that Pluto has some kind of atmosphere, perhaps pure methane gas. Similar techniques have been used to discover details about Saturn's moon, Titan. This body may be covered with a global ocean of ethane and have an atmosphere that is best described as a photochemical smog.

Cathy Olkin will discuss her stellar occultation research at the December 16 Seattle Astronomical Society (SAS) meeting. Olkin is a postdoctoral fellow with the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. She is the Observatory's first telecommuter and she works primarily from her home in the Silicon Valley, California.

Lowell Observatory operates eight telescopes in the Flagstaff area, plus a ninth at the Perth Observatory in Western Australia. The December 16 Seattle Astronomical Society meeting will be held at the Astronomy Building on the University of Washington campus in Seattle.

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