Searching for Pluto

The best time to look for Pluto is in July and August, during the week following the Last Quarter Moon. A clear dark sky with the Moon below the horizon until after midnight or 1 am is ideal. A 12-inch or better telescope is needed, with tracking, so you can switch to high power (e.g. > 150x) when you find the right star field. It’s quite a challenge to positively identify Pluto. The computer can point the scope to the right star field, but that is only the beginning of the search. Then you switch to the Pluto finder chart in the June issue of Sky and Telescope. It plots stars to magnitude 14.5, with Pluto’s track (magnitude 14.1) shown as a yellow line. Find a recognizable star field that will serve as a good reference point. The trick is to identify the pattern of stars around Pluto, and determine exactly which stars are nearest to it on the night you are observing. The finder chart is essential for this part.  Don't forget to turn the finder chart upside down to match the view in a newtonian or schmidt cassegrain without the star diagonal.

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The Galactic Center

In the summertime you wait longer for the dark night to arrive but the wait is well worth it!  There is no other time of the year that you can see so many different and wonderful visions that are all within a small sector of the sky.  Everything…

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The Sky Above

So you ‘ re interested in astronomy ( the study of the cosmos) and you’d like to learn more about the night sky. Let’s start by dividing the celestial sphere (the visible universe) into segments or regions. This has already been done for us by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).…

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2012 Night Under the Stars at Alamo Lake State Park

The 2012 'Night Under the Stars' at Alamo Lake State Park was an official Arizona Centennial Event, organized by JD & Karen Maddy of the Verde Valley astronomical society. I attended as an event astronomer. During the day, there was solar observing, which was well attended despite the sky clouding over as the day progressed. However, there were talks held under an arbor to compensate for that. One of them was about the history of Lowell observatory by a machinist who works there, followed by a raffle. A Century Plant (Agave Americana) was planted at the Park to mark the event.…

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Great Astronomy Watch? YES!

Great Astronomy Watch?  YES!

Several years ago I read an article on watches in Astronomy Magazine.  Ever since, I have lusted over a particular watch reviewed in that article: the YES watch (  There are actually several styles within the YES family of watches (the Zulu, Inca, Kundalini, etc.) but they all share a common trait: the ability to calculate sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset and many other astronomical times for any location around the world and display them on a unique 24 hour dial.  Unfortunately, a brand new YES watch is quite expensive (I have never spent more than $50 dollars on a watch before).  But recently I won an eBay auction and picked up a used Zulu model for less than half the price of a new one.  Is this watch everything the article made it out to be?  YES!…

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