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Pluto. Is it possible?


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Hi everyone, thought I would ask a question about whether it is actually possible to view Pluto EP.

I am asking the question for a few reasons I shall lay out. 
First is that Pluto was discovered using Photography. 
As far as I can recall I have not heard anyone saying they have seen it. 
I definitely cannot see it as despite my dark skies my largest instrument is a six inch newt, and if memory serves Pluto is Mag 14 and incredibly small.

I was once fooled into ‘The all the planets in one night challenge’ by Stu!! 
I spent some time observing the area of sky that had Pluto in it whilst waiting for Venus. (Pluto was not in the challenge)
I managed to hunker down on the three stars forming a temporary triangle around it but nothing.

Are there any members on this forum who can have dibs on it through an EP? 
Can anyone tell me the minimum size of scope required under B3 skies if it is even possible.

Marvin

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5 minutes ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

Hi everyone, thought I would ask a question about whether it is actually possible to view Pluto EP.

I am asking the question for a few reasons I shall lay out. 
First is that Pluto was discovered using Photography. 
As far as I can recall I have not heard anyone saying they have seen it. 
I definitely cannot see it as despite my dark skies my largest instrument is a six inch newt, and if memory serves Pluto is Mag 14 and incredibly small.

I was once fooled into ‘The all the planets in one night challenge’ by Stu!! 
I spent some time observing the area of sky that had Pluto in it whilst waiting for Venus. (Pluto was not in the challenge)
I managed to hunker down on the three stars forming a temporary triangle around it but nothing.

Are there any members on this forum who can have dibs on it through an EP? 
Can anyone tell me the minimum size of scope required under B3 skies if it is even possible.

Marvin

Sorry about the confusion 😉.

It’s one I’ve never managed to see. There is an excellent visibility calculator here which might help you:

https://www.cruxis.com/scope/limitingmagnitude.htm
 

If you are genuinely in a Bortle 3 sky eg mag 6.6 plus NELM then it looks like an 8” should do it.

I can’t recall exactly but suspect a 12” under a good sky is more likely to be successful. Hopefully someone else who has actually seen it will comment! 🤪🤣

If I ever get out again and use my 16” then I will give it a go. With SkySafari, matching star fields should be relatively easy (he says!)

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14 minutes ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

and if memory serves Pluto is Mag 14 and incredibly small.

According to almighty google - it is mag 15.1 - so rather faint.

I think that mag 15 isn't accessible with apertures less than 12"

 

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3 minutes ago, Stu said:

Sorry about the confusion 😉.

It’s one I’ve never managed to see. There is an excellent visibility calculator here which might help you:

https://www.cruxis.com/scope/limitingmagnitude.htm
 

If you are genuinely in a Bortle 3 sky eg mag 6.6 plus NELM then it looks like an 8” should do it.

I can’t recall exactly but suspect a 12” under a good sky is more likely to be successful. Hopefully someone else who has actually seen it will comment! 🤪🤣

If I ever get out again and use my 16” then I will give it a go. With SkySafari, matching star fields should be relatively easy (he says!)

Thanks Stu, I don’t blame you for the planets challenge. Like everything in life worth doing it is worth failing a few times and I loved the whole night experience of seeing the ecliptic deliver its treasures over time.

I just don’t understand how Pluto can be seen in a small scope when Tombaugh found it with painstaking work using a huge scope.

I have just seen Vlaiv has replied “Hello” so hopefully we will all be in the know.

M

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Given its low evation from n England and South being my direction of worst light pollution I find Pluto isn't that easy even when imaged with a 10in Newt.

My last attempt was very unspectacular. I can't imagine it being doable visually from mid to high n latitudes without a pristine sky and very capable scope. Maybe throw some focal length at it too to drill down through the local star clutter.

I've read reports of visual success over the years but when I was a lad it was high up in Virgo and mag 13.8. 

No luck with my 60mm Tascoesque refractor 😂

 

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I am at 44deg here and noticed it on Stellarium. I have no intention of trying to hunt it down as I simply don’t have the aperture or FL. 
But…. Future plans are looking to move into something like Stu has with his truss tube and a non Astro friend just asked the question? 
You know, like non Astro people do. Can you see an exo planet with that?!! 
Nothing like as good as that JWSTD telescope.

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1 minute ago, vlaiv said:

Well, according to this:

https://theskylive.com/pluto-info#brightness

if one is going to look at Pluto - better do it soon, brightness is going to go down for next hundred or so years :D

Btw - correction, current value is 14.44 but it will brighten to 14.34 in July 2023

Heading out with the 5” newt AZ5 right now🤣

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Just now, Paul M said:

I had to google my earlier statement. It's a bit more recent than I though but according to: https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/exploring-the-planets/online/solar-system/pluto/orbit.cfm#:~:text=That means that sometimes Pluto,axis tilted about 120 degrees. , it was '79 to '99 that Pluto was inside Neptune's orbit. 

I was aware that the orbits did something odd. Or should I say Orbit.

Pluto is highly inclined? and as such meant it was one feature that got it chucked off the planet list.

I am clearly no expert on planets and certainly not knowledgeable about orbital mechanics. I just like looking at them if at all possible.

Marv

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I'm no expert either. If I remembered perhaps 1/10,000 of what I've read on the subject of astronomy I'd be fairly knowledgeable! 

I fell in love with Pluto due to the story of its discovery. And if I remember correctly, Pluto was up there in Gemini when the venerable Clive Tombaugh was blinking at his blink comparator.

Imagine the excitement he felt when he saw those first ever shifting images of Pluto. Such a pity Pluto got demoted. But going forward, Pluto isn't anything special. Kuiper Belt objects, dwarf Planets and who knows what. Maybe an interloper in the future. A massive Kuiper Belt object hurtling towards the inner solar system...

What a shame Bruce Willis has retired.

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Definitely very faint. I have Bortle 5 skies at home and, a few years ago, put my 14" dob in the right place with pretty high confidence using SkySafari and couldn't catch a hint of it- even with magnification > 400x. 

Happy to try again though 🙂

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On 05/10/2022 at 20:40, Paul M said:

I had to google my earlier statement. It's a bit more recent than I though but according to: https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/exploring-the-planets/online/solar-system/pluto/orbit.cfm#:~:text=That means that sometimes Pluto,axis tilted about 120 degrees. , it was '79 to '99 that Pluto was inside Neptune's orbit. 

I remember this happening. I was in school at the time that Pluto first came inside Neptune's orbit and was told by the physics teacher that we would need a 10" scope to view it. Back then, that would have cost a king's ransom and I did not get my 250PX until decades later when they became much more affordable. I've always liked the idea of chasing down Pluto, but I've not yet imaged Neptune - the last of the planets on my list.

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A while back (2003 I think)  I managed to snag it at The Texas Star Party, so a really dark and transparent site. 

At the time it was about Mag 13.5, but also in a relatively star free area of sky.

I tracked it across three nights.

WIth 100mm binoculars! Each night I got friends to confirm my sketch of position. So in effect they saw it too.

The discussion at the time was what apparent aperture did my 100mm binoculars produce? Around then it was thought Pluto could just be seen in a 8", but the TSP conditions were way above average.

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