In Search of Pluto

A tale from over fifty years ago!

Using this 10″ (255mm) reflector telescope, and a simplistic chart published in Sky and Telescope magazine, I would try to confirm seeing Pluto, …a difficult star-like pinpoint at the edge of visibility. Observing from my suburban town only twenty miles (32 km) N.W. from the brightness of New York City, proved challenging.

A second observation from a considerably darker location was planned as Pluto would have slightly changed position amongst the same stars. But it didn’t happen as unfavorable weather conditions persisted for several weeks.

ABOVE: As seen in the eyepiece, …a rough drawing of visible stars in the area of where I believed Pluto was located. The arrows, particularly “G,” indicated possible candidates. I estimated magnitude 14, (the published approximate magnitude, or brightness of Pluto,) was about the faintest I could see at the time.
ABOVE: Compare the sketch to this same very small area in the constellation Leo, as shown from “Google Sky,” a searchable photographic atlas available free on-line, and certainly not available back then!

Did I see Pluto? Maybe, or maybe not. I recently concluded there was not sufficient evidence for me to comfortably confirm a sighting.  But re-visiting this event from an “armchair viewpoint” so many years later, was …an interesting way to pass the time during this pandemic year.

Special thanks to “Cosmic Focus,” an advanced amateur astronomer/imager from Australia, for providing the incentive to re-visit this quest, …and guiding me to to the current charting resources available today. His wonderful captures of Pluto and a keyway to a remarkable WordPress site can be found here or https://cosmicfocus.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/pluto-the-previous-planet.

Thanks also for viewing. Comments are always welcome, and you can zoom in for a closer look. M 🙂

5 thoughts on “In Search of Pluto

  1. Interesting to see an image of your Dynascope reflector, it would just about have the capability of picking out mag 14 Pluto under a dark sky. Verification is of course another matter but even all these years later, if you still have that scope, you could get it out and sketch that same patch of sky and see if there is one object obviously missing.

    Your tale is fascinating and your conclusion that you may have seen Pluto but with not enough evidence to be conclusive is an honest one in line with the scientific method.

    Your records, memory and persistence are awesome!

    Thanks Marty for discussing this with me before and for linking to my animated Pluto images in your post.

    Roger (Cosmic Focus).

    Like

    1. Thanks, Roger. Sadly, the telescope was sold long ago. But it was a treasure during the few years I enjoyed using it, particularly under the then awesome dark skies of the mid Jersey shore. Sadly, that is not the case today. Sometimes, however, I do think about jumping back in, and encouraging one or more of our grand kids. And yes, your notion of revisiting that special place in Leo would be interesting, but it, indeed, would require that fairly large aperture again, and appropriately dark place to prove useful. Thanks for your help and support of this project. M 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also have had difficulty in the past . . . I get Pluto confused with Goofy.

    Seriously, neat discussion, and yes, the tools are now amazing. I use Stellarium on the PC.

    On the phone, I have Sky Map loaded (Google’s app) but I more often use SkEye and prefer its features and interface.

    Of interest might also be Heavens Above which is an app that helps you locate satellite and the ISS transits above your location.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Pluto the Previous Planet – Cosmic Focus

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