TOPS Io Volcano Observations

On June 22 1999, during the 1999 TOPS student/teacher astronomy workshop in Waimea, Hawaii, I demonstrated some "live" astronomy by conducting a remote observing run on the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) from the Keck headquarters building in Waimea. The run was part of my long-term program to monitor volcanic activity on Jupiter's moon Io by observing the near-infrared volcanic radiation from the moon.

Pictures of the observing session

Taken by Karen Meech. Click on thumbnail for full-sized image.

We were very lucky to observe an unusually bright volcanic eruption on Io during the TOPS demonstration. I discovered the eruption during the first part of the observing run, which involved observing Io's passage into Jupiter's shadow (an eclipse) and then its disappearance behind Jupiter itself (an occultation). I made these observations at the IRTF, on the summit of Mauna Kea. While Io completed its two-hour passage behind Jupiter I drove from the summit down to Waimea so I could observe Io's reappearance from behind Jupiter with the TOPS participants.

[Stuff on the techniques used to be inserted here]

Results from the Observations

Sequence of images of Io volcano 9906A disappearing behind Jupiter. Sequence lasts 35 seconds, wavelength is 3.5 microns. The exact time of disappearance gives the location of the volcano on Io.
Click on the thumbnail for a full-sized version.

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