PLUTO



Figure 1.  Pluto is circled in this image, 27 x 18 'arc, taken on the evening of June 13, 2002.  Since the Earth moves faster than Pluto in its orbit around the sun, Pluto appears to move westward during an opposition (when Pluto is on the opposite side of the sky from the sun).  The folloowing images were taken one day later for showing this motion.  North is up.  The brightest star on the left is magnitude 6.9 (too faint for the naked eye), and the faintest stars are magnitude 19.0.  Pluto is at magnitude 13.8.  The unsaturated stars are 4 "arc across.  Pluto's apparent diameter is 0.1 "arc, so there's no way it could be resolved by this telescope. [Meade LX200 10-inch f/6.3 telescope, SBIG ST-8E CCD, average of 9 20-second exposures, Santa Barbara, CA residence, 2002.06.14, 08 UT]

Figure 2. One evening later I took many images of a smaller area of the sky and added them together.  Pluto moved to the right (about 1 inch on this image) and appears as a blurred line since it moved during the 3-hour period during which I was taking pictures.  The image area is 10.1 x 8.2 'arc in size, and the unsresolved stars are the same 4 "arc across.  The faintest stars in this image are about magnitude 20.0. [Same telescope and CCD, average of 78 images, each 20 seconds exposure, for a total exposure of 26 minutes, 2002.06.15, 08 UT]

Figure 3.  This is a "loop movie" constructed from 11 frames during a 3.2-hour period on the evening of June 14, 2002. Pluto moves 13.0 "arc in this movie, at a rate of 4.0 "arc/hour westward.

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This site opened:  June 15, 2001.  Last Update:  June 15, 2001