EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 492, Number 2, December III 2008
Page(s) 599 - 602
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200810134
Published online 15 October 2008

A&A 492, 599-602 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200810134

Research Note

Observation of an eclipse of U-3 Titania by U-2 Umbriel on December 8, 2007 with ESO-VLT

J.-E. Arlot1, C. Dumas2, and B. Sicardy3

1  Institut de Mécanique Céleste et de Calcul des Éphémérides, 77 avenue Denfert Rochereau, 75014 Paris, UMR 8028 du CNRS, USTL, UPMC, France
    e-mail: arlot@imcce.fr
2  European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19001 Santiago 19, Chile
    e-mail: cdumas@eso.org
3  Université Pierre et Marie Curie UPMC, membre senior de l'Institut Universitaire de France, LESIA, UMR 8109 du CNRS, Paris observatory, place Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
    e-mail: bruno.sicardy@obspm.fr

Received 6 May 2008 / Accepted 2 October 2008

Context. Equinox occurred on Uranus in 2007, allowing unique observations of mutual events of the satellites that occur every 42 years. On December 8, 2007, we observed an eclipse of Titania U-3 by Umbriel U-2.
Aims. Our goal was to record an observation of very high accuracy in order to evaluate the quality of the available dynamical models of the motion of the satellites.
Methods. Such an observation is challenging because of the faintness of the satellites, the vicinity of the bright planet Uranus, and the small amplitude of the magnitude drop observable during the eclipse. We recorded the event in K-band, using the ESO Very Large Telescope in Chile equipped with the NACO adaptive optics camera.
Results. High signal/noise ratio images were obtained for the event making possible the determination of relative positions of the involved satellites. Comparing our results with theoretical models of the satellites motions, we obtain a valuable assessment of the accuracy of those models.
Conclusions. Such observations provide important constraints on the orbits of the satellites. We discuss what is needed to improve existing dynamical models of the Uranian satellite system.

Key words: eclipses -- planets and satellites: general

© ESO 2008