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 🙂

Perspectives – From Earth to the Moon and Beyond

About 6 weeks ago, , the near full moon was hiding behind clouds as Jupiter and Saturn were at about their closest positions to earth this year (opposition) …as seen below. (Saturn was the fainter of the two, centered just above a cloud to the left of Jupiter.)

Apologies ahead of time for difficulty in seeing this in a bright setting. 😦


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

Comet Neowise, 4:45 AM, 7/14/20


          Finally! a clear morning, …and there it was! Thank You to my neighbor for providing the roof feature, although they don’t know about it yet. And Thank You to my patient wife for letting me back in the little upstairs deck door after I locked myself out!

As usual, thanks also for viewing. Zoom in for a closer look and comments are always welcome.  M 🙂

 

Four Days till Solstice!

    Will it be winter or summer?   It depends on where you are! 

     Four days prior to the beginning of our winter.

Thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome and zoom in to better see the cars approaching from New York State.  M 🙂

 

Pondering Illuminant Metamerism – Or, Get a Life!

While at my desk recently, (sitting there thoughtless – for me, a common place to be,) I took this picture of the ceiling above, which slants down to a skylight.

What’s interesting, or not, is the fact that except for the window, the same color paint was used on the same type surface. Only the angle of the outside lighting is different. Yes, it’s called Illuminant Metamerism, and was a consideration for which colorants (pigments) were to be utilized in my early career in the color matching science. Ultimatly that  led to “getting a (good) life” in my chosen career field.

There’s no point in zooming in on this image, but as usual, comments are always welcome. M:-)

A Total Eclipse Family Event – 8/21/17

My wife and I (and Sandy Paws, the dog,) journeyed about 750 miles (1200 km) from New Jersey to see and photograph the Total Solar Eclipse last week, meeting up with most of our immediate family for an unforgettable, awesome event which none of us, including the youngest, will ever forget.

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Through a very dense solar filter, these first two images show the moon in silhouette, moving slowly from upper right to lower left across the sun. Click on to see the sunspots near the center, and lower left limb.

Totality descended rapidly in the final seconds… exposing this unreal, and unforgetable sight, joined by gasps and “Oh my God, it’s beautiful (s)..” Fontana Village is a resort in western North Carolina, today within the “path of totality,” a ~70 mile (113 km) shadow area – this time moving west to east across the United States. Above,  the sun’s outer corona is captured.
Above: Totally eclipsed over two minutes, the sun just ….reappears. This shorter exposure shows the inner corona and solar flares (reddish bursts to the right and lower right of the sun,) often referred to as the ‘Diamond Ring effect.”
As the moon continues along, gradually exposing more of the sun… the strong filters and solar glasses are again required, as the landscape moves from deep twilight to full daylight in a little over an hour.

Besides finding it hard to concentrate on the quickly changing demands of eclipse photography, the totality is unlike anything you could ever experience. Spontaneous applause and cheers welled up from the field in a unified expression of being witness to something extraordinary.

Accompanied in the field by our children, their children; my brother and sister-in-law, and Sandy Paws, we appreiciated such a beautiful day for an exceptional event just south of the Great Smoky Mountains.

As usual, click on the images for a closer look, and thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M 🙂

America’s Cup 2017 – How The Wealthy Play

Coinciding with our vacation to Bermuda last week, was the America’s Cup Yacht Preliminaries.

As seen from the bow of our cruise ship, Norwegian Breakaway, the America’s Cup Village is seen just behind Celebrity Summit, in Bermuda’s Great Sound.

Over the preceding months and many locations, preliminary races determined the ultimate “challenger” to the current “defender” (USA’s “Oracle.”) Above,  New Zealand’s “Emirates” (in contest with Great Britain’s “Land Rover”) takes the lead with Gibbs Hill Lighthouse in the background, and has now earned that challenger privilege.

The boats have evolved over 147 years, from more conventional sailing yachts, to highly refined and sophisticated racing platforms, now utilizing hydrofoils to significantly reduce drag and increase speed.

Rules prohibit any energy sources other than the sea, air and human input. The helmsman, (see image above) who is ultimately responsible for navigation and articulation of control surfaces under race conditions, must continuously evaluate and decide when and where to guide the boat and how to do it. His hands are on a multi-remote laced steering wheel. Also, as the boat’s direction and roll-attitude changes, the entire crew will run across to the opposite (upper) pontoon to man duplicate stations.  Great theater! 

Just after winning this heat over Land Rover, Emirates is seen here coming down off the foils. The boats often exceed 44 knots (50 mph) in racing.

Although all the 50′ catamarans  are essencially the same, teams have virtually unlimited options as to trimming and power usage, including navigating savvy, and human endurance.  For example, Emirates utilizes bicycle-like human power stations, while Oracle uses the more traditional hand cranked “grinders.”  The science of these vessels and the methods employed are awesome, details of which can be found here .     

As usual, click on the image for a closer look, and thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M 🙂

 

Shooting Venus – March 11, 2017

Venus is currently a crescent phase, as it swings quickly along its orbit between Earth and the sun. 

Nikon D5200 DSLR, cropped (enlarged) from original size (below.) f13, 600mm Tameron (150-600) telephoto, ISO 1250, 1/4000″ Handheld

Original frame of image on top, same capture, at 6:09 PM 3/11/17, 10 minutes after sunset. Venus is in the center. Can you see it??

For comparison, Tri-X film version with EXA 35mm camera, 1/25th sec, through 10″ Newtonian reflector telescope. Taken December 1st, 12:30 PM many years ago, and recently digitally post processed. Being so bright, it can be seen and photographed in the daytime. 

Venus has been shinning brightly for the last few months after sunset, but is quickly approaching what is called Inferior Conjunction, as it passes roughly between the Earth and the Sun in 11 days, 3/22/17. The planet will re-emerge as the “morning star” visible a week or two later, rising before sunrise. 

As usual, click on the image for a closer look, and thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M 🙂