I've been listening to an episode of the "NASA in Silicon Valley" podcast about the SOFIA mission.

One of the techniques they use at SOFIA is stellar occultations to study different objects.

My impression was that the occultations by Pluto happen much more often than by Triton. Is this true and why is that?

  • $\begingroup$ I only skimmed the link, but do you mean occultations by Pluto and Triton? $\endgroup$ – user21 Dec 15 '17 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @barrycarter independently - a probability of Pluto in front of a distant star vs Triton in front of distant star events..hope it helps. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – alecxe Dec 15 '17 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ OK, those would be occultations by Pluto/Triton, not of. Edited question to fix. $\endgroup$ – user21 Dec 15 '17 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ @barrycarter apologies, still getting the basics. Thanks, good to know! :) $\endgroup$ – alecxe Dec 15 '17 at 16:20

Pluto is actually smaller in diameter than Triton, and is also farther away, meaning that Triton covers roughly 1.4x (according to WA) the angle that Pluto does, making occultation that much more probable apriori, ignoring their actual orbits.

In addition to the above, New Horizons recently observed Pluto's atmosphere with far more detail than what we can do from here on Earth, so it makes sense to measure a different target.


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