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Looking for Pluto?

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#1 blb

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 10:47 AM

Is anyone planning to hunt for Pluto this summer and what maps or information are you going to use for finding the former planet?
:question:

#2 leviathan

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 12:10 PM

Yes, I plan. I saw once last year in 8", now I want to image it. Stellarium is OK.

#3 JasonBurry

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 12:20 PM

I'll be using Cartes du Ciel...

#4 Rick Woods

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 12:47 PM

Nah, I saw it well in 1988 or '89. It was cool, but not something I'd go out of my way to see again. (At least, until I change my mind.)
Pluto is one target for which go-to is practically useless.

#5 azure1961p

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 12:58 PM

I saw Pluto once and simply didn't care. It'd be more captivating of Charon were resolvable making this a shifting double object but its just so banal instead. Its nice thought good to contemplate with the knowledge of what it is but its a paltry return on any kind of wow factor for me. Neptune is another matter all together.

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#6 Cames

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 05:54 AM

It is my yearly pilgrimmage to find it.

Years and years ago when I was introduced to amateur stargazing and telescopes, conventional wisdom held that finding and identifying Pluto was next to impossible. My first telescope was not up to the challenge at any rate. And the available locator charts in astronomy magazines of day weren't really detailed enough to make me, a first-timer, confident that I had actually seen it. The Pluto mystique has stuck with me ever since those days and it has become one of the benchmarks I use to judge if I am still at the top of my game.

A night of excellent seeing (minimal scintillation) edit:(actually I need a couple of nights...so that I can confirm that it has moved), a 10-inch Dob at 250X and computer-generated charts from a decent astronomy planetarium program (I use Skytools 3 Pro) gets the job done for me.

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#7 Sarkikos

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 10:42 AM

Is anyone planning to hunt for Pluto this summer and what maps or information are you going to use for finding the former planet?
:question:


Nope. Nothing to see here, folks. Move on.

About in the same category for me as variable stars, X-ray sources, and quasars. Eh ... :shrug:

Mike

#8 Cotts

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 02:54 PM

Well, I found it in my 16" (not very difficult to do, I must say....) while observing at David Lev's Adirondack Astronomy retreat last summer. I called out that I had Pluto in my eyepiece and right away there was a goodly lineup at the eyepiece and every viewer was thrilled to bits to see it. So was I......

Such a tiny speck - I,just fired up my imagination and the thrill came along immediately.

Dave

#9 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 04:03 PM

I look at Pluto each year and find nothing more boring about it than a great many other dim celestial objects. In fact, watching its motion over a period of days or weeks can be rather interesting.

The charts in the RASC Observer's Handbook and Sky & Telescope are usually sufficient, although a computer generated printout can be really useful.

Dave Mitsky

#10 mich_al

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 04:15 PM

Yep, it's a challenge I take up. Saw it last year and gonna try again soon using Stellarium.

#11 blb

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 06:39 PM

I saw Pluto once and simply didn't care. It'd be more captivating of Charon were resolvable making this a shifting double object but its just so banal instead. Its nice thought good to contemplate with the knowledge of what it is but its a paltry return on any kind of wow factor for me.

Nope. Nothing to see here, folks. Move on.

You are correct, there is nothing to see but a dim 14.7 or .8 magnitude object that looks like a dim star. But it is not a star, it was once the 9th planet in our solar system and now it is a member of those objects now known as Kiper Belt objects. Oh yea it moves too, unlike quasars that so many like to hunt down.

I too have seen Pluto and there is no wow factor there but only a sense of accomplishment in being able to find such a faint object, not unlike finding a very dim planetary nebula that you have looked for many times. For me it is about the chase.

#12 Rick Woods

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 08:22 PM

When I saw it, it was mag 13.7 and pretty easy in my 8" Newt (under very dark skies). There was an excellent chart in Astronomy magazine, and I had no trouble identifying it. I looked again the next night, and it had moved exactly as I expected.
When New Horizons goes past it in a couple of years and we get some first-hand info and pictures, the imagination factor should fire up again. I've got the artillery now to nail it no matter how faint it gets.

#13 Kraus

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 02:30 PM


According to Dawes' limit, one would need an objective of 45.6 inches or 116 cm in diameter to resolve Pluto's .1" size. So how could one see it in an 8 incher? Hmmm....

#14 Rick Woods

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 03:01 PM

I didn't say I resolved a disk. I saw it as a mag 13.7 star, easy in the 8", but not very interesting.

Would you please post the calculations that led you to such a statement, and what it is that requires that size of a telescope? This site is full of people who have seen Pluto in 8" or less scopes; are you suggesting that they're all mistaken?

#15 Sarkikos

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 03:01 PM

Maybe he didn't resolve Pluto. But he did see it. Can you resolve a star?

Mike

#16 Sarkikos

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 03:02 PM

Yes, what Rick said...

Mike

#17 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 04:10 PM

According to Dawes' limit, one would need an objective of 45.6 inches or 116 cm in diameter to resolve Pluto's .1" size. So how could one see it in an 8 incher? Hmmm....


Brian Skiff, a professional astronomer on the staff of the Lowell Observatory and a very active amateur astronomer, has detected Pluto with a 70mm Tele Vue Pronto refractor from Anderson Mesa, where the LONEOS telescope is located. Brian took my wife and I there one night when we visited Arizona in 2001.

http://www.lowell.ed...rving_site.html

While in Arizona I also met Jeff Medkeff, an extremely well-versed and talented amateur astronomer (who unfortunately passed away at age 39), who reported observing Pluto with an 80mm refractor.

Scott Ewart, an excellent observer who works for Al Nagler, has seen Pluto with a 4.5" Newtonian.

Dave Mitsky

#18 azure1961p

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 04:48 PM

Maybe he didn't resolve Pluto. But he did see it. Can you resolve a star?

Mike


Yeah... I'm not getting the point here. It could be .0000001 of an arc second but if its bright enough Rick or anyone would see it through an
8".

It WOULD be wild to see it resolved as a disc through a huge scope but the seeing you'd need to make it happen would also make it a challenge - to say nothing of the ladder.

Pete

#19 blb

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 05:28 PM

According to Dawes' limit, one would need an objective of 45.6 inches or 116 cm in diameter to resolve Pluto's .1" size. So how could one see it in an 8 incher? Hmmm....

Yes, Hummm indeed! Who said anything about resolving this planet :rainbow:, which has not even been accomplished with a 30 meter telescope, I don't think. We are talking about seeing a magnitude 13 to 14.8 point source of light and following it across the sky as it moves. That,s not unlike following and identifying an asteroid. Hey, I have seen stars a faint as mag. 15.6 with my 10-inch dob from the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina at only 300x and I have seen mag. 13.6 stars beside galaxies with my 4-inch TV102 refractor, so seeing a mag. 14.8 planet as a stellar point is well within grasp for most amateurs from a reasonably dark site. All you have to do is try and find it. The fun is in the hunt or chase. At least it is for me, maybe not others.

#20 Rick Woods

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 07:27 PM

The HST has resolved Pluto to a rough degree; I have very coarse charts of the surface albedo features as seen by it in several books.

#21 azure1961p

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:14 PM

I did get Pluto resolved in my eight inch reflector Rick.

Dont laugh, don't doubt till you've read my account. I've kept this under wraps for so long its mummified. I may not be believed but here is...

It was an unusually warm night for that time of the year when I had seen Pluto resolved. I know for a fact I saw surface detail and more so than Hst's garish attempts. The scope was the 8" of of course and at a magnification scale I can only guess at. Pluto was about the size of a baseball at arms length and Charon was a cherry.

How much to make it that big? I have no idea Rick but belief me when I tell you - they were that huge.

But how through an 8" aperture when he resolving limit I had was incredible as that??

When gravitational lensing first became documented in Einsteins cross and arcs of galaxies higher and hither and yon were being lensed into distortion via emmense galaxy clusters very far away the concept began to dawn on me that lensing was possible here on earth.

Ok right there your thinking I'm going to tell you I gravitationally bent light and that'd be ludicrous. But what changed it all was when I realized gravity need t apply here

I set about making a thermal lens whereby the 8" scope was merely the ocular to my thermal lens construct.

Ok there were pitfalls. Infact for many months it would seem everything was in the cards to make it a thorough impossibility. And I nearly gave up until I realized that there was actually nothing standing in my way but my patience. This was a profound understanding that kept m at it for as long as I did. Sheer chance and odds favored my positive results if only id allow them t unfold.

So herewith is what happens every single solitary clear night.

I waited till Pluto was high in the sky as the ecliptic allowed . I placed my scope in the center of the yard and then the thermal lensing manufacturing system was in place. It was 46 propane barbecue cans the type we are all familiar with arrayed in a giant circle around me in a diameter of 108 feet.
Attached to each propane canister was a heater . Everyone knows the glowing heating attachments for these and this was them.

Well it went like this. I had different configurations and timings but in the end I chose the following:

Run all the heaters In unison with valves servo activated. I'd run a burn for 10 minutes, then as started, so in unison they all shut off.

I wait 96 seconds. It was infact this 96 seconds that afforded me great control. For with the burn an immense plume reminiscent of a mushroom cloud thermal rosé up into the sky where by its curved convex face , aimed skyward created. focal point with my reflectors aperture affording me the resolution of an image hundreds of meters across.

For a few seconds.

Typically what was seen was horrendous defocusing of stars that actually RACED across my field of view. They positively flickered with speed. You'd think this chaotic mess of star bloat and image shift and runaway refraction was a non starter but again I realized in the repeated trying of it all sooner later Id have partial success .

-if even briefly.

When it did happen it lasted for about three seconds. The embarrassment if it was that I had no idea what I was looking at . It looked like an immense Ganymede and about as bright! It materialized seemingly out of nothing and returned just as quick but for those precious seconds the huge refractor lens rising over my home and bending the light down the tube of my reflector opened up resolutions vault and poured fourth a dazzling brilliance such as never before .

You'd think I would have been elated and developed something beyond that - harnessing the example to repeat t and refine it but as it turned out the odds were so steeply against me I never came close. Later on after a fruitless summer of failed attempts and too many barbecues I admitted defeat and a felted the resolution powerball that was handed to me was beyond hope of duplicating in even the most crude sense.

I was beside myself for months.

Now I know what you are thinking and you are going to call be a BSer but ill leave you with this my friend...

I did tell a famous Harvard grad/observer who was writing for a very high profile magazine at the time in Cambridge. Well I drew him a map - outlined the details, how the shape and correction of the refractors thermal lens varies with heat duration and output, how wind causes astigmatic thermal lensing and so forth. Months later he moved to Volcano Hawaii in search of an ever more powerful thermal lens than my design. Apparently his success has been repeated as the volcanos heat output is more robust than my fragile propane plume.

I have only my memories and so many cannisters in the basement.

Pete

#22 *skyguy*

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:33 PM


Nope. Nothing to see here, folks. Move on.


"One man's junk is another man's treasure." ;)

Looking at Pluto means far more to me than just seeing a faint speck of light. It represents the determination and perseverance ... with no guarantee of success ... of its discover, Clyde Tombaugh. I have been inspired my entire life by his story and for me ... Pluto will always be the 9th planet!

#23 Rick Woods

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 10:06 PM

Pete,

Diabolically clever!

Skyguy,

for me ... Pluto will always be the 9th planet!


For me too, bud. Dwarf planet - bah!

#24 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 06:08 AM

There does seem to be a prejudice among some planet/lunar officianados that unless the observer resolves an object or a surface feature, they have not seen it. You can see this especially in the Lunar Forum when the discussion comes around to "seeing" craterlets, in Plato for instance. Unless you can resolve a definite crater shape, you have not seen (read "resolved") the crater. Of course, by these strict standards, none of us have ever "seen" a star (Sol excepted), and most who have earned the H400 Certificate will have to return their pin in shame.

Mike

#25 blb

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 08:20 AM

for me ... Pluto will always be the 9th planet!

And for me too Skyguy, it will always be the 9th planet.






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