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Projeto Observacional para 2009A - OP2009A-019
Título: Mutual Events of Haumea and Namaka
Resumo: By pure coincidence, for the next few years the orbit of the satellite Namaka around the dwarf planet Haumea (formerly 2003 EL61) is nearly edge-on to our line-of-sight. This type of configuration does not last for long, because as Haumea travels around the sun in its 283 year orbit, we continuously see the Haumean system from different angles. It is only edge-on at the angle we see right now, and at the angle it will again be in 141 years -- half of a Haumean year from now. In addition to being an interesting coincidence, the fact that the orbit of Namaka is nearly edge-on provides the opportunity for gaining an enormous amount of information about the Haumean system. Over the course of Namaka's 19-day orbit around Haumea, Namaka will pass in front of and behind Haumea, temporarily disappearing. While the Haumean system is so far away that we will never be able to directly watch these disappearances, we will be able to notice that when Namaka disappears behind Haumea, for example, the total amount of light from the system will go down by a small amount, and then up again when Namaka reappears. Measurements of the precise timing of these events will allow us to measure properties of Haumea and its system to staggering accuracy. We propose observations of the mutual events that will be visible from this site on five days in the 2009A semester.