8/18/00: Created with sample image links.
8/24: Added JAB image link.
8/29: Added DA image link. 9/2: Updated this link.
9/04: It Has Been Done!
12/02: Another prior-art example.
6/5/01: JG's broken link
6/13: JP pics.
7/13: JG's animation is back.
7/21/02: AstroGeek video capture.
9/10/2004: Gary Clinch's Pluto under Prior Art.
9/14/2005: Thierry REMY Webcam
10/07/2005 Ken Graun film image to beat
7/24/2006: Douglas W. Neal Pluto image. Changed "Prior Art" to
"Reference Pluto Images"
09/01/2008: Dr. Tim Wetherell Digiscopes Pluto.
It Has Been Done! Here's
proof that small amateur equipment can image Pluto
Image to Beat
Rick Bria and
Angelo Nunez were able to overcome light pollution in their two CCD
images of Pluto on August 16th and 20th of 2000. The results are
visible in the animated GIF file to the left -- give it time to load to
see all the frames.
The two dated images were through an
80-mm refractor working at 600-mm focal length. Imaging was unguided
on a non-computerized mount. Shown are cropped 16' x 15' fields
from the original 27' x 20' images. North is up and West is right --
just as in a northern hemisphere 'naked eye' view. Also included
is a Space Telescope Science Institute Digitized Survey image to verify
the field. The field is centered in RA/DEC at about: 16h40m22s /
Pluto animation was made from stacked images taken through a NexStar-5
with a Philips Vesta Pro web-cam!
Thierry REMY, an expert NexStar-5/webcam
imager made the exposures from August 4 to August 8, 2005 in Valdrôme France, at the Société Astronomique de France meeting.
Each image was taken under the same conditions at the beginning of
night, while waiting for seeing to develop.
I added TheSKY6 frame at the end as
verification. Pluto was at 13.9-mag and the bright star here is 8.25-mag
Hardware: Vesta Pro NetB sensor 1/4"
mode RAW through Celestron NexStar-5 (5"/127 mm) in equatorial mounting + Red 3.3 GAIN 95% - GAMMA 50% - 10 seconds each
Stacking and processing details:
SMEDIAN2 of 51 images | RL 3 3 | UNSHARP 1.5 3 | DDP 200 2 1
Thierry's animation employed IRIS and Animation Shop software.
Wetherell sent me a Pluto Visual Logbook entry with some confirmation
images. I gasped when I realized that he'd used an imaging technique
usually reserved for imaging planets, the Moon and birds!
Focusing a camera/lens onto an eyepiece
mounted on a telescope is afocal imaging or Digiscoping. This is usually
done with smaller point-and-shoot cameras for imaging bright objects,
often using the camera's zoom to frame the target and automatic focus.
This is the first time I've seen Pluto
imaged like this. As the point of this imaging was to locate Pluto for a
visual small-scope sighting, this submission is the first to end up on
both the Visual Logbook (140mm) and
Imaging Results pages.
Hardware: TEC 140 APO (980mm nominal f.l.)
on equatorial mount, Nikon Coolpix 5000 and 30mm 2" eyepiece
After some e-mail correspondence with author
and publisher Ken Graun, I visited his What's
Out Tonight website and was pleasantly surprised to see this series of
Pluto images taken on film with a 4" refractor. (With the rush
to digital imaging at the start of the 21st century, I was no longer
actively searching for amateur Pluto images on film!)
While fellow Arizonian Clyde Tombaugh
imaged Pluto with a 3-element f/5.3 refractor onto very slow speed b&w
film, Ken used a 4-element f/5.4 refractor, with a Barlow to achieve
f/10.8, to image the planet onto high speed b&w film. Clyde's
13-incher had 10-times the aperture of Ken's scope, but Ken has access to
film in the neighborhood of 5-times faster - if not more.
Ken Graun's stills + TheSKY6 reference frame.
Reference Pluto Images These
amateur images were taken with larger instruments than the above. Use them as a reference comparison.
animation, by Joe Garlitz, was creating by stacking 15 CCD exposures for
each frame! Imaging was done through an 8" (0.20-m) Newtonian.
Here are some
static shots Joe created.
Vedeler nailed down Pluto using a CCD camera through a 10" (0.25-m)
John A. Blackwell took a single 1' exposure though a 8" this June to produce this clear shot.
Allmon, using a fast (f/3.3) 10", captured the planet on a modified
Richard L. Robinson
took these images of Pluto through an 8" SCT with a MX - 5C CCD.
Polhamus took these images: each 2 x 60 secs, binned 2x2, with a Meade 8" LX200
and ST7 camera.
Demonstrating the light-sensitivity of the new
from Massachusetts, capture this Pluto image with an Astrovid StellaCam. It
was taken through a Celestron C-11 and captured with a Snappy frame grabber.
Processing was done with Photoshop. Imaged on July 17, 2002. (I estimate the
field at a bit less-than 0.2-deg wide).
Clinch took these successive CCD images of Pluto with an ST-7XE and
LX200 under a bright Moon.
Douglas W. Neal found Pluto with a Meade 8" LX90 and Canon Rebel XT
STScI Digitized Sky Survey images
are copyright (c) 1995-2000 by the Association of Universities for Research in
Astronomy, Inc. All Rights Reserved.