Exploring Ultima Thule

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Coykendall Science Building

Coykendall Science Building · New Paltz, NY

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The meeting will be held in the auditorium at the Coykendale Science Building across from the planetarium

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The New Horizons spacecraft collected data on Kuiper Belt Object 2014MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule, during a flyby encounter in December and January. Steve Conard will discuss the efforts to find Ultima Thule, to characterize it prior to the encounter, the preparations for the encounter, and the data collected by the LORRI instrument. A long-time amateur astronomer, being part of the exploration process for the most distant object visited by a spacecraft was one of the highlights of Steven's career. The meeting, as always, will begin at 7:30 pm with regular club business and a recap of current activities and community opportunities. The night's presentation will begin at 8:00 pm.

Steve is a member of the Principal Professional Staff at the The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He has over 35 years’ experience building, testing, and operating optical instrumentation for astrophysics and planetary space missions. He has been lead engineer for the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager on the New Horizons mission since 2003. Prior to joining APL in 2002, he was with The Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy for 20 years. He holds an A.A.S. in Engineering Science from Ulster County Community College (now SUNY-Ulster), a B.S. in Engineering Physics from the University of Arizona and a M.S. in Applied Physics from The Johns Hopkins University.

Steve in a native of Ulster County, NY, growing up in the Stone Ridge area. He has been an amateur astronomer since age 12, and grinding his own telescope mirrors as a teenager led him to a career in optics. His current interests in astronomy are occultation timing and spectroscopy.