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 🙂

Transcontinental Smoke

Instead of clear blue mid-September skies, the jet stream has picked up the massive pollution from California and environs, stretching it down toward Texas and up again to the Northeast in a 4000 to 5000 mile track spreading over the continent. Here in New Jersey, starting yesterday, the daytime sky has been distinguished by a slivery white opacity while the ground horizon remains sharp and clear. Meteorologists predict this will vary day by day based on the course of the Jet Strem.

Smoky air pollution from the unprecedented forest fires on the United States West Coast are now affecting our skies in the East. 

This image was taken about 90 minutes before sunset in Boonton, New Jersey, …and the plane is actually a model being flown over a nearby soccer field.

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

The Piermont Pier

 

           About four weeks ago, in one of our last ventures before the Corvid-19 Pandemic, we visited the little town of Piermont, New York …on the Hudson River, and explored its 182 year old rock and earthen pier, which by 1851 served as a loading and unloading track bed for Erie Railroad trains picking up steamboat passengers from Lower Manhattan, twenty-five miles to the South.  On the then longest rail line in the world, vacationers would travel 450 miles (724 km) to Dunkirk, NY and the shores of  Lake Erie.   Some hundred years later, long after the excursions were outmoded, tens of thousands of WW II troops would depart from this same mile long pier to ferries, and transfer onto troop ships in NY Harbor. Sadly, thousands would literally leave their last footsteps on U.S. soil right here. A monument nearby is solemnly named “Last Stop, USA.”

The Piermont Pier is located about two miles (3.2 km)south of the new Mario Cuomo Bridge, jutting out a little less than one mile (1.61 km) into the Hudson River.

The old steamship/ferry slip from years ago is seen above,  …to the left.

Above: Today, the pier is a commercial, residential, and hiking park.

Remnants of the steamship/ferry docks can still be seen in this 2/23/20 view looking south. New York City would be just beyond Tallman Mountain to the right.

Above: A bollard, used for securing heavy lines, is seen here near the end of the pier, looking south.

Above: The trestle part of the new bridge, carrying the New York State Thruway, is about two miles (3.2 km) to the North; and Hook Mountain, overlooking the Hudson, is seen beyond.

Above: The striking new Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge; and two miles (3.2 km) further, Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse off Tarrytown, NY seen to the left of center span.

Taken some years ago while boating on the Hudson, Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, also know as Tarrytown Lighthouse or Kingsland Point Lighthouse, was “installed” in 1883.

Thanks for viewing. Zoom in for a closer look.

And a special note: BE WELL, …and please use best judgement practices as we “navigate” through these un-precedented difficult times.    M

I’d like to thank the Piermont Historical Society for their added information concerning this topic, and Wikipedia. I am a proud contributer/donator to both sources.

 

 

 

Palisades Amusement Park – End of an Era

Retrospective Series – January 1972

          Forty-eight years ago this month, the wrecking ball had begun its work marking the end of decades of fun and amusement at this iconic park perched high atop the New Jersey Palisades overlooking New York City.

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

 

Fun in Downtown L.A. Then and Now

Family Vacation, 32 years ago. American Airlines 747 from NYC’s Kennedy Airport to LAX. After the image below, is the story of  “Early A.M. in L.A.  on 11/10/87”   

 Images: Above: Giant Swiss Army Knive at Museum of Contempoary Art, Downtown L.A. – and L.A. as seen from Griffith Observatory, 11/11/87 with  City Hall to left – 5.6 miles (9 km) distant.
Above, the iconic L.A. City Hall, known at the time as “The Dragnet Building.”

Twelve hours after landing, I would be exploring Los Angeles by foot before the morning’s rush hour, while the family slept off jet-lag in the Holiday Inn about a mile away. An awesome two hour adventure into an “architectually diverse” downtown, with parks and plazas, and… WHAT??? – a Giant Swiss Army Knife???   Yes indeed!  

 

And, not far away, …Swinging Cars!hi

Years later, and of course living 3000 miles away, I wondered exactly where these two photos were taken. I searched maps, and photos where I could, without success – until now. Thanks to the remarkable 3D satellite image and orientation tools available on most any smart phone and/or computer, I “flew” between the buildings and first found the cars: W. Fourth street, and S. Grand Ave.  See it below?

The Swiss Army knife was a lot harder. In fact, it’s not there anymore. BUT, by looking at the photo I took in 1987, and specifically for the glass pyramid in its background,  I zoomed way in on the “Tom Tom” 3D map, and searched until noticing the glass pyramid structure. Below is from today’s mapping app, zoomed in showing that same glass pyramid. A “new” contempoary display is in the exact place where the knife was 32 years ago. 

Above: The Plaza at The Museum of Contemporary Art, on S. Grand Street, L.A. (From Tom Tom Maps,  Apple I-Pad)

Below, another photo of downtown Los Angeles on that beautiful morning.

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

Osprey Eyes

Photographed at our local Osprey nest on Barnegat Bay last week, Dad (left) and Mom (middle) are seen raising three offspring, shown here at a young age of about eight or nine weeks. It’s late afternoon …dinner time, and a fresh fish is the meal at their feet on the right.  What intrigued me was the color or their eyes. 

Below: A closer view of the light gray-eyed adult, contrasting strongly to the orange of the fledgling. 

And below, this same color distinction is seen here with the mom, (now staring at me,) and the orange eye color of the other two siblings.

Thanks for viewing, zoom in for a closer look, and comments are always welcome M 🙂