REPORTING OCCULTATION OBSERVATIONS
Prior to 1 September 2008 timings of total and grazing lunar occultations were collected by the International Lunar Occultation Centre (ILOC) in Japan. However from that date ILOC ceased to collect and reduce occultation timings owing to funding constraints. The role was subsequently passed to the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) which now provides a global collection facility and requires observations to be submitted through local and/or global co-ordinators.
For total lunar occultations, reports shold be submitted monthly to your local co-ordinator who will carry out a preliminary reduction of timings and quickly advise observers of any problems. After any issues have been resolved co-ordinators batch their data and send it to the IOTA global co-ordinator. Ultimately, reported observations are archived at the VizieR Astronomical Data Centre where they are available for research purposes. Submitting total occultation observations through local co-ordinators also makes it easier for us in Australia and New Zealand to keep track of how many occultation observations are being made in the region.
Grazing lunar occultation reports must be prepared separately from any total occultation reports. Graze reports should *not* be sent your local coordinator, but directly to the IOTA global co-ordinator Dr Mitsuru.Soma. If you are part of a team observing the graze, then individual reports should be sent to your team leader who will gather them together and send them on to Dr Soma. Unlike total occultations, graze reports should be sent to Dr Soma as soon as possible after the event; it is not necessary to wait until the end of the month.
Double star lunar occultation events (including when a double star event is predicted but no double event is observed) should be the subject of an *additional* report and sent directly to Brian Loader.
To record TOTAL, GRAZING AND DOUBLE STAR Observations, use one of the following three methods:
Both Total and Grazing Occultations can be recorded using the Observation Editor in OCCULT. Remember that graze observations need to be recorded separately from total occultations. Double star occultation reports can also be prepared from the Observation Editor, but must be done so as an *additional* report.
LUNAR REPORT Software:
LUNAR REPORT is standalone lunar occultation reporting software derived from OCCULT. It is only 175Kb and should be extracted from its
zip file to a suitable folder and run from there. A help file is included. (Note: To use this you must have the Microsoft .Net framework installed on your computer.)
LUNAR OCCULTATION WORKBENCH (LOW) Software:
LOW software was written by Eric Limburg and is in common use in several parts of the world, particularly Europe. LOW can also prepare predictions and has other nice features. However like Occult is also big - about 90MB.
Where Do I send my Observations?
Total Occultation observations should be sent as a text file (preferably from OCCULT) to your local co-ordinator after the end of each month.
Grazing occultation reports should be sent directly to Dr Mitsuru.Soma and *not* to your local coordinator. However, if you are part of a team observing the graze, your individual report should be sent to the team leader who will collate them and be responsible for sending them on to Dr Soma as soon as possible after the graze.
Double Star lunar occultation events, including when a double star is predicted by OCCULT but no double event is observed, should be sent as an *additional* report directly to Brian Loader.
Unlike total and grazing occultations, when you monitor a possible asteroidal occultation it is important to submit a report WHETHER YOU SEE AN OCCULTATION OR NOT. The reason for this is that even if you did not see an event, your negative observation might still be crucial in determining the diameter of the asteroid. For example, if you were just outside the area in which an occultation was observed, your observation may help define the southern or northern limit of the occultation band, thereby providing a constraint on the deduced size of the asteroid. There are many occasions where such negative observations have proven to be of crucial importance to obtaining a meaningful result.
You can report your PLANETARY OCCULTATION observations using one of the following two methods:
OCCULTWATCHER is a very comprehensive program which allows observers to co-ordinate their observations over a wide geographical area in real time. It is regarded as essential software by all regular observers. OCCULTWATCHER features a number of optional Add-Ins, one of which will assist you in preparing an Excel spreadsheet report form. However to use this feature you must first download and install the "IOTA Reporting" Add-In from this page. Once the time of an event has passed you can right-click on the event and choose "Report Observation". The Add-In contains some basic error-checking to assist you in filling out the report correctly.
Excel Minor Planet Occultation Report Form:
If you are unable to report your observation using OCCULTWATCHER we prefer that your observations are reported using this form. If you do not have Microsoft Excel or OCCULTWATCHER you can instead use our Text-only Minor Planet Occultation Report Form. The co-ordinators receive a large number of reports so it is of considerable help to them if you can carefully follow the instructions contained in each form.
NOTE: There is a strict naming convention for planetary occultation reports which is fully explained in our Planetary Occultation Report Naming Standards Word document. (This document should be able to be opened using Microsft Word, Open Office, or a range of other word-processing programs. If you have difficulty please consult the co-ordinator below.)
Please forward reports to the Planetary Occultation co-ordinator for Australia and New Zealand John Talbot, with a copy to Director OCCSEC . Reports (whether positive or negative) should be submitted as soon as possible after each event, but certainly at least as frequently as once a month.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR RESULTS?