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The news story "A star eclipsed by an asteroid in France this week-end: how and why scientists ask you to observe it" (in French) relates how people were are asked to look at the occultation of HD 51593 by asteroid Eurybates, one of the targets of space probe Lucy. The article explains how multiple observations of this occultation could help refine Eurybates' trajectory. The last paragraph states (my translation):

More than 700 willing observers have already registered for this week-end. Similar experiences in the late 80's in the US didn't reach more than 200 observers...

But there is no source to this claim, and the linked page of the French Astronomy Association, organizing this citizen science project, does not mention it. So I'd like to ask:

Which citizen science occultation experiences were done in the late 80's in the US? What were the achievements of these experiences?

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    $\begingroup$ Pretty impressive that they coordinated 200 people pre-internet. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 22, 2022 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not in the USA, but I vaguely remember amateurs contributing to measurements of lunar occultations of stars. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Oct 22, 2022 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ In the 1970's I remember reading about upcoming occultations of different types and am pretty sure there were invitations to send timing data by post. There were occasional offers to send predictions to anyone who mailed a letter with their lat/lon coordinates and elevation, which was a fun challenge for a kid before personal GPS receivers; it was a trip to the library. I got one prediction back with an apology for being late; "I left the letters in my banjo case playing with my bluegrass band" it mentioned. I think this was someone from NASA/JPL. I was impressed: "NASA folks are people too!" $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 23, 2022 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Thank you for your input, I appreciate it even if (or because?) it is anecdotal! :) $\endgroup$ Oct 27, 2022 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ IOTA has a mailing list you can join and ask there: groups.io/g/IOTAoccultations $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2023 at 16:24

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What seems to be referenced here is the International Occultation Timing Association-IOTA

They were set up in 1983, and from their website

IOTA is a volunteer science and research organization born in 1983. We gather data from timings of astronomical occultations and provide a variety of educational resources to promote and encourage observations of astronomical occultations.

There are some research papers that reference this: Evidence for asteroidal satellites from 30 years of occultation observations

Although I must say they do not seem to be very big overall, which may be why you did not find them.

Hope this helps :)

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you, I had indeed missed this IOTA. The link abstract doesn't contain much info... But I see they have newsletter archives dating back to the 80's on their website, I'll dig into them. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 10:40
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The article in La Montagne seems to refer to this Ciel et Espace article, which links to a Twitter thread including an image from the Ciel et Espace print edition. That article mentions two occultations: one by Titan in July 1989, visible in Europe; and one by Pallas in May 1983, visible in the US.

Dunham et al. 1990 analyzed the 1983 event. Their main result was a 2D profile of Pallas with only 1.2 km uncertainty, which enabled a decent 3D estimate when combined with a 1978 occultation. They also characterized the reaction times of visual observers by method and experience level. They further estimated the separation of the occulted binary star 1 Vulpeculae and found that its parallax had been overestimated.

Dunham 1990 figure 2: Raw occultation observations.

A preliminary report appears in IOTA Occultation Newsletter vol. 3 no. 4, July 1983.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! If you could include a summary of this Dunham et al. paper in your answer (especially the citizen science bits), that'd be great! $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! Unfortunately I was away from the web when the bounty expired, so it has been automatically awarded. Maybe timing the bounty during the holidays was not an ideal move... $\endgroup$ Jan 2 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Jean-MariePrival I'm addicted (also screenshot) to bountying; if you don't mind, I'll add one here. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 2 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh The green check mark is enough for me. :) $\endgroup$
    – Mike G
    Jan 2 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Sure, go ahead if you want. You have an impressive record! $\endgroup$ Jan 2 at 20:46

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