University Lowbrow Astronomers

Astronomy Pictures of the Planets [Image 8]

Pluto
by Doug Scobel

Pluto

Wanted to share my Pluto observation from the Black Forest Star Party this past weekend (September 11 and 12, 2004). Even after 35 years of observing, I guess there’s still new things to see!

The field was a challenge to sketch, there were many more really faint stars than those that I recorded. And Pluto, at 14th magnitude, didn’t really stand out, so I had to wait for the second night to see which one moved. Doug Nelle had the right idea - he had printed a detailed chart of the field and only had to fill in the stars that didn’t appear on the chart.

Pluto is difficult to distinguish from stars in the background. The most reliable way to tell the difference is to observe the same star field on two successive nights.

The sketch above was based on observations made on September 11 and September 12. The dot marked with the number 1 only appeared on September 11 and marks the position of Pluto on that date. The dot marked with the number 2 only appeared on September 12 and marks the position of Pluto on that date. This shows movement between the two nights that you would expect from a distant planet.

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