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 🙂

Bear Mountain – Forty Miles From “One World Trade Center”

This past week I drove up to Harriman State Park, NY, on the Hudson River. From the top of Bear Mountain, New York City, 30 to 40 miles to the south, is visible on clear days.

The top image is from just below the Bear Mountain Tower, and shows the vista to the south.  The next image is from the same capture, enlarged and enhanced. In it, NYC’s skyline is clearly seen, with the George Washington Bridge at far left, …and “One World Trade Center” at far right. The iconic and once dominent Empire State Building is seen right of “Central Park Tower” the newest and now tallest building in the city …EXCEPT for the tower on One World Trade Center. (click the link below to see my previous post showing the very top of that tower.)

A view from the eastern side of the mountain,  Bear Mountain Bridge crosses the Hudson River 

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

Exploring Eastern Utah – “Adventures Club” (Prelude)

Last week, in just four days between Thursday and Sunday,  our son, daughter, and her 7 year old son, and I, absorbed a bucketlist worth of memories in remarkably phenomenal Utah, USA.  

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Landscape Arch, in Arches National Park, is the second longest natural arch in the world, with a span of 290 ft. (88m.) (Image taken 11/6/15)

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Meandering through the twists and turns of isolated Moqui Canyon (Lake Powell) in a small rental boat was amazing at this time of year. (11/8/15)

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We beached the boat and explored for a while at the end of some of the bends, with  cliffs towering several hundred feet above. (11/8/15)

Arches and Canyonland  National Parks; Natural Bridges National Monument; Glen Canyon/Lake Powell National Recreation Areas; Great Salt Lake; Salt Lake City; Park City; Green River; Sundance; Moab; Bullfrog.

Milege Statistics:

Air, 4000; Car, 1100; Boat, 20; Hiking, 21

As soon an I get my breath, and organize the image bounty, I’ll be posting some additional highlights.

Click on the pictures for the benifit of higher resolution, and as usual, thanks for viewing. M 🙂

Church Bay, Bermuda – 6/29/15

Two weeks ago as part of a memorable family cruise,  Jeanne and I visited this little beach on Bermuda’s south coast. 

Click on images for higher resolution.

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Our first view, from the highlands above.

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Secluded Beach, Pristine Water, Snorkling…

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Places to explore…

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Daytrippers, like us, coming in for a taste of paradise…

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Fine, soft sand… nearly transparent water…

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It really… doesn’t get much better than this!

Thanks for viewing, and as usual… comments are always welcome. M:-)

Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge, Utah – Warm Thoughts on a Cold Day

Posting this in N.J. on a windy, cold day (wind chill: zero F  (-18 C))  brings these warmer images to mind, part of a southwest (U.S.) vacation some time ago when we rented a small boat and explored a number of the 190 spectacular winding sandstone canyons of  (man-made) Lake Powell, and swam in it’s deep blue waters.

83.004     8-8-95     Lake Powell, UT-AZ., Holly, Steve, Noodle in lake
The “noodle” was a good idea as the waters are over 500′ (152m) deep in places.

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The entrance to Forbiding Canyon is some 60 statute miles (96 km) east of Wahweap Marina.  About five incredibly beautiful miles further, are the Rainbow Bridge boat docks.

83.013     8-8-95      Lake Powell, UT-AZ., Boat docks ar Rainbow Arch Marina
Small boats and houseboats provide the only reasonable access to Rainbow Bridge.

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Just after approaching between towering cliffs, the natural sandstone arch, which IS Rainbow Bridge, can be seen here to the left.

83.009     8-8-95     Lake Powell, UT-AZ., Approaching Rainbow Arch
 Rainbow Bridge, 580′ (177m high, is one of the worlds largest natural  arches, basically inaccessible by car.

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Once docked, there is a short but warm hike to the arch.

1995.08.08      090  S.W. Vac. Lake Powell, Utah, On short trail to Impressive Rainbow Bridge

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Below: It’s awesome. Only after the Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1963, and the Colorado River flooded, was Rainbow Bridge accessible for most.

83.011     8-8-95     Lake Powell, UT-AZ., Rainbow Arch
Rainbow Bridge

1995.08.08      094  S.W. Vac. Lake Powell, Utah, Boat at Rainbow Bridge Dock and marina
our rental boat in the Rainbow Bridge dockage-area marina around 12 noon

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Back in the boat, we headed out and had lunch in narrow seclusion among towering formations, affording shade from the hot sun.

83.018     8-8-95     Lake Powell, UT-AZ., The very hot sun, star filter, over rocks

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Although we would boat about 140 miles round trip today (225 km,) we never tired of the remarkable scenery, allowing stops for exploring and swimming. 

1995.08.08      102  S.W. Vac. Lake Powell, Utah,

83.019     8-8-95     Lake Powell, UT-AZ., Holly and Steve swimming

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House boats and other watercraft rentals are available throughout most of the year on Lake Powell, the “reservoir” located mostly just above the Arizona State line, as seen in the satelite photo and maps below.

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Forbidding Canyon. The main lake is above this section, out of the picture above; and Rainbow Bridge would be just out of the picture, below the dockage area at the lower right. This image is about 2.5 miles (4 km) wide.

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Below, Lake Powell, from Google Maps. Wahweap to the left, Rainbow Bridge to the right.

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Thanks for viewing, and as usual comments are always welcome. M 🙂

What Lies at the End of Schnebly Hill Road?

Sedona, Arizona…. if you make it!

Quite a few years ago, on our first approach to Sedona, my family was “concerned” when I silently decided to take our rental car on a long winding dirt road of questionable condition off exit 320, I-17, instead of Rt. 179, the usual approach from the south. The allure of adventure compelled me.

Sedona, and its neighbor Oak Creek, are a prize just below the western portion of the Mogollan Rim, a 200 mile escarpment stretching across north-central Arizona in what is known geologically as the Transition Zone, with the upper Sonoran Desert to the south, and the Colorado Plateau to the north – an elevation change of about 4000’ (1200m.)

Schnebly Hill Road, winds for about 13 miles from I-17, the North-South Interstate highway in Arizona. It courses through mostly flat, but impressive ponderosa pine forests, until its last few dramatic miles of descent, some 2000’ (~600m,) where the vegetation “transitions” into pinyon and juniper trees; and the sudden awesome vistas of eroded sandstone formations and outcroppings come into view. These sheer cliffs, monoliths, and curious cathedrals of all shapes,  blazing with white, and red and orange colors, are like sculptured inverted children’s pails and castle turrets in a sandbox.

Upon first sight, the usual reaction is to gasp, but attention needs to be paid to the deteriorating, eroded, winding, road as it descends rapidly at it’s most perilous point.

Over the course of several subsequent visits to Sedona and Oak Creek, (approached more civilly on paved roads,) we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing many of its natural treasures, a sample of which is captured below.  Hiking and exploring are a dream here, but additionally, are restaurants, galleries, small and unique shopping areas; impeccable resorts, and even “spiritual enlightenments” for those inclined.”

What lies at the end of Schnebly Hill Road?  The treasure of the Red Rocks Country. But if you dare take this route, advise the family ahead of time, and rent a 4WD SUV!

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The first view of the Red Rocks Country, 1995, from Schnebly Hill Road

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The descent, as the dirt road turns….challenging.

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Some years later, from a classic Bi-Plane over Sedona. The edge of the Mogollan Rim is seen on the near horizon, and to its right, 12,633 ft. (3258m) Mt. Humphreys, about 45 miles North.

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Devil’s Bridge is a moderate hike on the western side of Sedona.

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The view from on top is breath-taking, as seen from this image in 2009

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Along the trail, are wonderful examples of South-West US vegetation, this being a moderate sized Pointleaf Manzanita, known for its shinny red bark.