Aims: We carried out observations of the small jovian satellite Amalthea (J5) as it was being eclipsed by the Galilean satellites near the 2009 equinox of Jupiter in order to apply the technique of mutual event photometry to the astrometric determination of this satellite's position.
Methods: The observations were carried out during the period 06/2009-09/2009 from the island of Maui, Hawaii and Siding Spring, Australia with the 2m Faulkes Telescopes North and South respectively. We observed in the near-infrared part of the spectrum using a PanStarrs-Z filter with Jupiter near the edge of the field in order to mitigate against the glare from the planet. Frames were acquired at rates > 1/min during eclipse times predicted using recent JPL ephemerides for the satellites. Following subtraction of the sky background from these frames, differential aperture photometry was carried out on Amalthea and a nearby field star.
Results: We have obtained three lightcurves which show a clear drop in the flux from Amalthea, indicating that an eclipse took place as predicted. These were model-fitted to yield best estimates of the time of maximum flux drop and the impact parameter. These are consistent with Amalthea's ephemeris but indicate that Amalthea is slightly ahead of, and closer to Jupiter than, its predicted position by approximately half the ephemeris uncertainty in these directions. We argue that a ground-based campaign of higher-cadence photometry accurate at the 5% level or better during the next season of eclipses in 2014-15 should yield positions to within 0.05 arcsec and affect a corresponding improvement in Amalthea's ephemeris.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- November 2010
- planets and satellites: individual: Amalthea;
- planets and satellites: general;
- methods: observational;
- techniques: photometric;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- Published in A&