2013

Pluto

I'm am proud to show you our first picture of Pluto, taken by our grad student Graham Cree.  The comparison between the picture and the simulated view below leaves no room for doubt, Pluto is shining right in the centre.  This image was taken with a Nikon D3100 attached to our 14" reflector.  It's 30 pictures, each exposure was 20 sec long, for a total of 10 min of exposition.

Picture of Pluto

As a comparison, look at the simulated view of same area of the sky from Stellarium.

Simulated view using Stellarium

The night was fairly bright since the Moon was up, and recording a magnitude of 15.55 star (Pluto was 14.13) is quite an achievement from Graham with our 14" telescope in Ottawa.  Here is a simulated view of the solar system at that time from Tyzonn (http://www.tyzonn.com/2012/01/3d-solar-system.html). You can see the Moon in the way and Pluto not at opposition (so not the closest from Earth).  On Oct 10, 2013, Pluto was at a distance of 32.7 A.U. (32.7 times the distance Earth-Sun) and it was 31.4 A.U. on July 1st 2013.  On that night, it was not much brighter at 14.05.

Solar system view

 

Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS

I was very excited to get a clear sky for the observation of the comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS.  On Saturday March 18, I went outside my house at 19:30 with binoculars, stand on my deck and tried to find the comet.  My horizon is quite high (20 deg) having my neighbour's house in the way, but after 5 min, I got a visual.

The comet was a bit disappointing, invisible to the naked eye (but obvious with the binoculars). I took my camera and got a fair snapshot out of it.  Here's what could be seen:

Comet PANSTARRS

 Which is not as pretty as my comet McNaught I took a few years ago (2007).  But still, the binocular gave a nice view.  You can still observe it later in the evening for the rest of the month.  Use binoculars