Pluto Crossing Dark Nebula

July 23, 2010

Click for rollover

Photographer: John Chumack
Summary Authors: John Chumack; Jim Foster

On the night of July 6, 2010, I captured Pluto crossing the Barnard 92 Dark Nebula from my observatory in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Don’t feel bad if you can’t see it. Even when viewed with a high-power telescope, using a one hour exposure, and at a time when Pluto is relatively close to us, it's just a speck of light. Our former ninth planet's passage through the dark nebula made it much easier to pick out among the rich star field of the Sagittarius Star Cloud (M24). Backyard astronomers won’t get a much better view than this for another 250 years; the approximate period of Pluto’s revolution about the Sun. However, in 2015 the New Horizons spacecraft will cruise by Pluto and its moon, Charon, so we should all get a chance to see what this enigmatic dwarf planet looks like up close.

Can you guess which speck is Pluto? Good luck! Click on image to see rollover of Pluto's location.

Photo Details: Homemade 16 inch Newtonian telescope; QHY8CCD single shot color camera; exposure time of one hour or 12 five minute sub-exposures; captured from 1:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.