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General Meeting

Friday, June 22, 2018, 7:00 PM until 10:00 PM
Radnor Township Municipal Building
301 Iven Avenue
Radnor, PA  19087
Louis S Berman
General Meeting
Registration is not Required

Title:  The New Horizons spacecraft and the Kuiper Belt Object 2014MU69

Speaker:  Steve Conard, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD


This presentation will be on the New Horizons spacecraft and the Kuiper Belt Object 2014MU69. The New Horizons spacecraft will perform a flyby of this small Kuiper Belt Object (nicknamed "Ultima Thule") on January 1, 2019. Until the summer of 2017, very little was known about this object—its size was estimated to be between 10 and 40 km in diameter. Knowing the size of the object would make the pre-planned observations during the New Horizons flyby much more effective and lower risk.  In this talk, Steve will describe two expeditions to Argentina, where a diverse team used off-the-shelf amateur astronomy equipment to measure both the size and shape of this body. The results obtained reveal an unusually-shaped body that has further raised scientific expectations for next year’s encounter.


Steve Conard is an optical systems engineer at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.   His teenage interest in astronomy and telescope making lead him to a 35-year career building spaceflight optical instruments for astrophysics and planetary science missions. He is has been lead engineer for the New Horizons LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) since 2003.  As a hobby, he measures the size and shape of asteroids for the International Occultation Timing Association.


Of possible unique interest to the DVAA:


  • My parents were raised in Glenside, PA; and a number of uncles/aunts/cousins still live in the area.
  • Our family (last name "Kunders" at the time) was one of the first 13 German families arriving in what became Philadelphia in 1683.