4 Spetember, 2008

Beginning March of 2009, the International Lunar Occultation Center, located in Japan will cease operations. IOTA will be the new clearing house for all observation reports beginning 1 September 2008. The reporting format has changed, and IOTA has several resources for observers to standardize their reports to match the new formats.

IOTA has also set up regional coordinators for the Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, and Japan. All reports will be emailed to these coordinators for inclusion into the observations database. At the present time, Europe and Africa will send their reports to the Australian Coordinator

There are four ways to log and report your observations. The old email-76 method is no longer to be used since it does not conform to the new format. Please do NOT use this method!

At the time of this posting, the following people are regional coordinators. Any questions regarding reporting should be directed to them. NOTE: Please remove the "spamnot" after the "@" in their e-mail address before contacting!

Australian Regional Coordinator Dave Gault
New Zealand Regional Coordinator Brian Loader
North/South American Regional Coordinator Derek Breit
Europe (IOTA-ES) Regional Collector Jan Manek
Japanese Regional Coordinator Kazuhisa Miyashita
Grazing Occultation Coordinator Mitsuru Soma
Global Coordinator Dave Herald

And finally, beginning September 1, 2008 ALL reports should be sent only to IOTA. Do not send any reports to ILOC.

As other regions come on-line Regional Coordinators will be announced for those areas (e.g. Europe, Africa, Asia, Middle East, etc) this webpage will post the names and email addresses of those coordinators.

Any further questions can be queried on the IOTAoccultations Discussion Group, the Occult Software Discussion Group, or be contacting your Regional Coordinator.


The following is a set of emails, composed by David Herald and sent to various mailing lists and groups of occultation observers. The are reposted here for those that have not received or read any of these. The are in their entirety and are as follows:

Date: 28 August 2008

The most significant change for 27 years in reporting lunar occultations is now underway.

Central collection of lunar occultation observations commenced in the 1930's, with it becoming the responsibility of the Royal Greenwich Observatory within about 2 years. That responsibility was transferred to the Japanese Hydrographic Department in 1981. It is now transferring to IOTA.

IOTA will commence collecting observations for Africa, Australasia, and North and South America, as from 1 September. Commencement for Japan and Europe will occur in the near future.

There are a number of very important issues associated with this change. Rather than put them all into one very long email which no-one will read, I have split them up into 5 emails, as follows:

I urge everyone who makes lunar occultation observations to read all these messages in detail. I know this can be tedious, but this is the biggest change in the reporting arrangements for 27 years.

Also, if you know of people that make lunar occultation observations, but are not subscribers of the various email groups, please forward these emails on to them.

If you have queries about he new process, please raise them on the groups. Chances are that someone else will have a similar query.

I am confident that the new arrangements will work very well. But equally I have no doubt that some unexpected issues will arise somewhere - I wish I could predict where! I just ask for everyone's patience and tolerance in those situations.

Finally, at this significant time I think it is appropriate that we thank ILOC for the valuable service they have provided us for the last 27 years.

Dave Herald
Canberra, Australia
August 2008


A new version of Occult is now available. Version 4.0.5.

For those already using Occult4, the basic upgrade involves a 1.8MB download. The download to update Occult is available at: When you first run the new version, you will be taken to a download page where you can update a range of files (as described on the above page).

[For those that only read instructions when something doesn't work, the direct download of the update is at:]

Main changes in Occult 4.0.5

The main changes in this version of Occult are associated with supporting the processing and archiving of lunar occultation observations. The Japanese Hydrographic Department (ILOC) has been the agency responsible for collecting lunar occultation observations since 19981. Unfortunately they are unable to continue with that role, and the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) has agreed to take on the responsibility.

As part of this responsibility:

I will provide further details of these changes in a separate message.

Additionally there have been a range of updates and improvements, with the following being the more noteworthy:

This is an important update to Occult. I urge all users of Occult to update to this new version.

Dave Herald
Canberra, Australia
August 2008


As most will be aware, the Japanese Hydrographic Department (ILOC) announced earlier this year that they would be unable to continue in their role of collecting lunar occultation observations. IOTA has agreed to take on this responsibility.

A number of people have been working hard with developing an updated reporting format, and software solutions to support the reporting of observations, and the analysis of observations. We have now reached the stage where IOTA will be commencing to collect Lunar Occultation Observations for the Americas, Australasia, and Africa as from 1 September 2008. There will be separate announcements for Europe and Japan in the near future.


The Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg, which handles the archiving of data in the Astronomical Date Centres of VizieR, has agreed to archive lunar occultation observations. This is significant for several reasons. Firstly, the observations will (for the first time) be archived in 'proper' data archives so that we can be confident that the data is secure in the long-term. Secondly, it is archived with 'main stream' astronomical data. Thirdly, the data will be readily available for anyone to conduct research using it. [added note: The structure of the archived data can be viewed here]

The data collection process may simply be described as the process of getting the observations from the observer into the archive. [Of course, we will be making use of the data before it is archived - but that is secondary to the process of archiving.] In setting up the process, there were two key objectives:

The process that has evolved is based on the model used for collecting asteroid occultation observations. That is, someone in a region has responsibility for collecting observations in that region, with those observations being subsequently collected by a more central person for final processing into the archive. In this model, the regional collectors are in a position to assume the role of the central person relatively easily. Similarly, the regional collectors can provide support for new regional collectors.

On the software side, there are 4 separate applications, from 3 different authors, to support the new report format.


As of 1 September, regional coordinators (collectors of observations) have been identified for North America, Australasia and Japan. Additionally the North American coordinator has agreed to collect the observations from South America; and the Australian collector has agreed to collect the observations from Africa. [However, if the volumes from those two regions become significant, we would be looking for coordinators in those regions...!]

The regional coordinators will do the initial processing of the observations, including sending a preliminary reduction to the observer. Additionally, they will be converting the observations into the format used to archive the observations. Periodically, they will forward the observations to a global coordinator who will merge all the observations into a single file - with that file being periodically archived.

More details about this arrangement may be found at: and


1. In other messages I have referred to the various software packages that support the new reporting process. Relevant email addresses for reporting observations are included in those packages (with facilities to readily get the 'latest' addresses. Observers should obtain their software solution of choice, and start using it.

2. As from 1 Sept 2008 (0hrs UT for the pedantic!) the coordinators for Nth & Sthn America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa will start collecting observations. Observers in those regions can start sending observations to them from that date. If you have observations ready to be reported, DO NOT SEND THEM TO ILOC. Send them to your regional coordinator. [This will make the transition easier and faster.]

3. FOR ALL OBSERVERS - WHEREVER YOU ARE LOCATED. Graze observations should now be sent to the graze coordinator - Mitsuru Soma.

4. Observers in Japan and Europe. Please hold on to any unreported 'ordinary' occultation observations until you are advised that your local coordinator is ready to receive them.

Dave Herald
Canberra, Australia
August 2008


The new arrangements for reporting lunar occultation observations are being supported by 4 software solutions for creating the report. Those solutions are (in alphabetical order):


Created by John Talbot (New Zealand) and Brad Timerson (USA), this uses an Excel Worksheets for Observer Information, Telescope Information, and Observations. The Form makes extensive use of drop-down lists with common terminology. The resulting Excel file is emailed to the regional coordinator, who uses an Excel macro to convert the spreadsheet data into the final report format for reduction and archiving using Occult or LOW.
Download from
The download is about 30K.


This is a comprehensive lunar occultation prediction and reduction package written by Eric Limburg (of the Dutch Occultation Association). Like Occult, LOW offers a complete reduction of an observation, so that any data entry errors can be immediately identified. Eric has not quite finished updating the program to use the new format - but a beta version should be available in the near future.
The LOW download page is at:
The download is about 88MB.


This program is effectively the Lunar Observations editor from Occult, packaged as a stand-alone application. It contains extensive data entry checks. However it does not include a star catalogue or a lunar ephemeris - so (like the Excel report) it cannot perform a reduction of the observations. It can be downloaded from:
The download is only 194K.

OCCULT This is the full-featured Occult program, which deals with Lunar occultation predictions and reductions, Asteroid occultation predictions and reductions, eclipses and transits (plus more....) It can be downloaded from:
either as an update to an existing version of Occult 4 (1.8MB download) or the completepackage (28MB) There are optional downloads of up to another 130MB.....

Dave Herald
Canberra, Australia
August 2008



As mentioned in other emails, the responsibility for collecting lunar occultation occultations is moving from ILOC to IOTA. When ILOC took over the responsibility for Lunar Occultations in 1981, the report form was extensively revised from that used by Royal Greenwich Observatory - but has not been significantly revised since then. In recent years Video has become a common observing tool, and GPS has become common both for coordinate measurement and time base. Neither of these developments were well supported in the ILOC report format.

Additionally, several years ago ILOC concluded that their system of allocating Station and Observer codes was breaking down. As a result, they completely changed the format of their internal file of reported observations - with the site details being included against every observation in the file.

The transfer of responsibility to IOTA has provided an ideal opportunity to revise the report format. This was approached with the following principles:

The following is a detailed summary of the changes that have been made;












Dave Herald
Canberra, Australia
August 2008


Three items to add to my previous emails about the new process for reporting lunar occultations.

1. Grazing occultations. The members of a graze expedition should continue to report their results to the person who organised the graze (as has been done for the last 40 years). That person will then send the combined observations to Mitsuru Soma. Individual observers should not send their observations direct to Mitsuru.

2. Reporting frequency. At this stage we are working on the basis of observers reporting their observations on a monthly basis, and aim to have a monthly update to the publicly available file of current observations. But if you make a lot of observations over a couple of nights, you can send your report at that time. Graze reports should be sent to Mitsuru as soon as all observations have been collected.

3. Please do not send your report to more than one person. The process for archiving the observations involves merging the reports gathered by the different coordinators into a single file. If you report your observations to different coordinators, they will create duplicate observations in the merged file - and someone will have to go through and delete the duplicates. [That is a task that no-one wants to do!]

Dave Herald
Canberra, Australia


For Users of Occult in Europe

This new reporting address has now been added to the list of reporting addresses that Occult (and the next version of LOW) access to obtain current reporting addresses.

To report observations from within Occult you need to have this new address included in Occult. There are two ways to do this:

From the form that appears, select either 'Source IOTA-US' or 'Source RASNZ', and click Download. Upon successful download, the European reporting address will be available in Occult.

When you are ready to report some observations, select 'Europe - IOTA-ES' from the list of reporting addresses (and you will see the actual email address when this is selected). [NOTE: You will not see any reference to Europe in the list of reporting addresses until you do the above download.]

Finally, do not try to send reports to the European address before Sept 8. [If you send a report before the address is active, Occult will 'appear' to validly send the observation report. However you can expect a 'Mail System error' from your ISP, reporting an invalid address.]

Dave Herald
Canberra, Australia

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