Earth-based stellar occultations probe the temperature, pressure, and number-density profiles of planetary atmospheres in the microbar range with a vertical resolution of a few kilometers. Depending on the occultation data available for a given body and other information, the technique also allows determination of local density variations, extinction by aerosols and molecules, rotation period and zonal winds, atmospheric composition, and the temporal and spatial variability of an atmosphere. A brief quantitative description of the interaction of starlight with a planetary atmosphere is presented, and observational techniques are discussed. Observational results through 1995 are presented for Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Titan, Neptune, Triton, Pluto, and Charon.

Keyword(s): CharonJupiterMarsNeptunePlutoSaturnTitanTritonVenus

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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