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 🙂

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 🙂

 

PANDEMIC BLUE

            Yes, a new world-wide color: Pandemic Blue. Particularly those in urban areas have likely noticed what is one of the effects of significantly reduced airline and surface-traffic exhaust.

             Doesn’t the sky in this image, taken this morning in my suburban backyard,  look …nice?  Pandemic Blue. AND, as a bonus, if you are into “star-gazing” or astronomy, check out the night-time skies. Yes, …it’s more transparent! Pandemic Black

A small silver lining to an event that has become almost incomprehensible worldwide! 

Thanks for viewing. Hope all is well with you and yours during this thing! And you can zoom in for a closer look.  M! 

 

 

50 Years Ago – Earth from the Moon

The crew of Apollo 8, on this very evening (Christmas Eve) exactly 50 years ago, were the first humans to orbit the moon and take the iconic photograph above as they looked back at Earth. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life, as we watched on television, mesmerized by a feat which is still hard to comprehend today.  For years I would have a 2 x 3-foot poster of this image above my desk at my place of work, and for the past 4 or 5 years, it has often been the banner of these WordPress posts.

William Anders, James Lovell, Frank Borman,

 

As usual, thanks for viewing.  Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to all. M 🙂

6:45 AM: Griffith Park, LA., The Observatory and the Moon

 

Continuing a theme from my last post, once again we have the last quarter moon hanging above a fairly well known landmark –  the Griffith Observatory and Science Center overlooking Los Angeles. It was day two of a family vacation with a somewhat newer SLR film camera, early in the morning of November 11th, 1987.   

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

6:45 AM: Griffith Park, LA., The Observatory and the Moon

 

Continuing a theme from my last post, once again we have the last quarter moon hanging above a fairly well known landmark –  the Griffith Observatory and Science Center overlooking Los Angeles. It was day two of a family vacation with a somewhat newer SLR film camera, early in the morning of November 11th, 1987.   

54.041 11-11-87 Los Angeles, Griffith day 2

54.046 11-11-87 Los Angeles, Griffith day 2

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

 

4:30 AM: Washington DC – The Capitol and the Moon

 The top photo could have been taken last week. But when I stood on the Capitol lawn with the EXA camera, man was yet to step foot on the moon and our president was embroiled in a Southeast Asian war.  The camera was a manual SLR, with something called photographic film, from Kodak. (Admittedly some digital enhancing gave the image just a little more snap than the original snap! 🙂 )

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

 

“Great Scott!” er… SPOT – Jupiter Collides with EARTH!

I dreamed that the Earth was being threatened by Jupiter’s “Great Red Spot!” 

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No, that’s not really true, not even the dream part.  BUT, the clouds above do look a little like planet Jupiter’s atmosphere with its “Great ‘Red’ Spot,” just above and behind the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant here in New Jersey! Furthermore, the smokestack may be attempting to suck power out of the “spot,” as JCP&L investigates more sustainable energy sources; similar to my previous suggestion raised  about New York’s Con Ed last year,  here,  

For reference, here is the real thing: (Stock photo from Wikipedia.)

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And below, my younger day’s attempt at “astrophotography.”
1-077-6-27-62-bergenfield-jupite-with-great-red-spot-through-8-in-telescope-version-2

Jupiter and its “Great Red Spot” (8″ f/12 reflector, 75x; EXA 35  mm SLR, 1/25th sec. Tri-X B&W film,) captured a long, long time ago in my parents back yard, way before digital imaging, and by today’s standards – pretty meager!  

Thanks for viewing. Click on or finger stretch images for increased detail, and comments are always welcome: M 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Cosmic Clock – Perseid Meteor Shower

 

The Perseid meteor shower occurs around August 12th every year.          EVERY YEAR.

DSC_0863 - Version 5

Above, a so so “capture” from the NJ Pinelands of a Perseid meteor last year  (8/13/15 – 18mm ISO 4000, 15″, f/4, enlarged)

 This morning, while watching for and seeing a few impressive Perseid meteors, I tried thinking of the first time I ever saw a meteor. My memory brought me back to a family vacation in Barnegat Light, New Jersey – a rental property near the beach with a flat roof accessible by outside stairs.  Years later, while scanning old B&W pictures, I failed to establish an accurate date for that particulal week, but at 4:30 AM this morning, out there in the night,  I recalled as a young boy being “scared” at the frequent fast moving streaks in the dark sky during that vacation. Dad was introducing my brother and me to ‘meteors.’ 

I pondered that memory and  the timely annual recurrence of meteor showers… and  realized (as an aside,) that I finally had an accurate date frame for that early Jersey Shore vacation! All in all pretty insignificant, but…how neat!

1953.07.00 128 Curt, in Barnegat Light, date appro

Above, Dad on the roof –  town of Barnegat Light, NJ.

Below, my older brother and me on the beach, with Barnegat Lighthouse beyond.

1953.07.00 134 Barnegat Light Summer Vacation - Version 2

 

As usual, comments and inquiries are welcomed. Thanks for viewing. M 🙂