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August 2015 Archives

Most of us have never seen Pluto. Most of us never will. Neptune is more plausible.I remember as a student looking for Neptune with the Northumberland Telescope in Cambridge. We were doing a 'planets' night - in which it was theoretically possible to tick off all the planets (save Pluto, which was still a planet back then) in one night. A hunt for Neptune had some historical significance - James Challis failed to find Nepturne with the same telescope in 1846. As I recall, we failed to find it too. We might have seen it, but without taking a photograph and coming back to the same area of the sky the next night, we weren't going to be certain. But I remember the view of Mercury just after sunset being spectacular - that's a planet that doesn't often show itself, being so close to the sun. 

Anyway, back to the 'Trans Neptunian Object known as Pluto'. The New Horizon's website has some fantastic pictures. Here's my favourite so far - a 'time-lapse' film of our view of Pluto through the years. The latest images are unimaginally detailed compared with what I remember seeing in the popular astronomy books when I was a child. 

 

 

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