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 🙂

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 🙂

A BIG Perspective on the New Year

 

         2014, the New Year, starts next Wednesday. A year…. the time it takes Earth to circle the sun. 

In these two weeks or so, two other planets will be lined up, stringing out almost in a straight line from the sun.

Therefore, for those peoples who have considered this particular point in our orbit as the place to be to mark the next cycle, we might as well invite Jupiter and Venus to join us this year in celebration.

 SO, HAPPY NEW YEAR, Earth, Jupiter and Venus.

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Venus will be “on the line” (between Earth and the Sun) on January 11th. In a small telescope, it currently appears like the crescent phase above, and to the naked eye, it is very bright in the SW sky after sunset, but quickly (apparently) closing in on the sun. On rare years, it passes directly in front of the sun as shown at right – in 2004.         

 

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Jupiter will be at “Opposition” (along that line) on January 5th. Since it’s “opposite “ the sun as seen from here (Earth!) look for it shinning brightly high above at midnight. The B/W images above were taken by myself many years ago when amateur expectations were far less than today; and at right, Jupiter and 4 of its moons as captured recently, where expectations are far greater!   

 I did not take the picture below – wish I had!  But it is my favorite.  From Apollo 8, 45 yrs ago this past Christmas Eve.

Earth-Rise over the moon.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!