Object Name: Pluto and Palomar 8
Object Type: Planet and globular cluster
Location: Cherry Springs, Pennsylvania
Date: July 17, 2013
Media: graphite pencil, white paper, digitally inverted
Notes: 16″ Newtonian and 8 mm Ethos ocular, 225x. West left (arrow on sketch), north down. Pluto is indicated between two vertical dashes among stars. The nebulosity is the unresolved globular cluster Palomar 8. Sagittarius. The true conjunction was around 0 UT on July 15; the observation was made around 06:00 UT on July 17.
Pluto is a fascinating object that has produced much speculation and argument ever since it’s discovery by Professor Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906-1997; Lowell Observatory/New Mexico State University) on March 13, 1930 (Pluto imaged on January 23 and 29 and plates examined on February 18 by Tombaugh) at Lowell Observatory (Flagstaff, Arizona). Initially believed to be the mysterious Planet X proposed by American astronomers Percival Lowell (1855-1916) and William Henry Pickering (1858-1938; also famous for his seeing scale) this far denizen of the Solar System turned out to be smaller than our own Moon (Pluto’s diameter is 1,433 miles (2,306 km) vs. the Moon (2,159 miles (3,474 km)); or 66% that of the Moon’s diameter). Even so astronomers continued to study this enigmatic body and in 1978 (June 22) its largest satellite Charon was discovered by American astronomer James Christy (United States Naval Observatory, ). Ironically Charon is over half the diameter of its parent body (Charon’s diameter is 750 miles (1,207 km) vs. Pluto (1,433 miles (2,306 km); or ~52% that of Pluto). The second largest satellite with respect to its parent body is our own Moon (2,159 miles (3,474 km) vs. earth (7,919 miles (12, 742 km); or 27% that of the Earth). Two other satellites were discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) on May 15, 2005 namely Nix (~29 miles (~46 km) diameter) and Hydra (~38 miles (~61 km) diameter).
… I produced this image using Photoshop CS3 for a lecture that I gave on Pluto. The scene depicts the surface of Pluto with a thin atmosphere with Charon visible in the Plutonian sky. The Sun is brighter than in reality but I used a little artistic license. I hope that you like it.
“Pluto from Pluto” after Mel Hunter
By Frank McCabe
In the spring of 1963 I was a junior in high school and purchased for 75 cents a
Pyramid book titled “Nine Planets”. The author of the book, Dr. Alan E. Nourse
worked his way through medical school by writing magazine articles about science
fact and also science fiction. I found this author’s writing style riveting as a
young lad. Today most of the content of this book is quite outdated although in
1963 it was an exciting read. Planet Pluto, the “Mighty Midget” as the author
describes it is more unknown than known and will be explored. The author
speculates on the nature of this mysterious planet in the chapter titled, “Pluto
and the Outer Reaches”.
So this chapter too will become part of the discarded speculation of the past
because in another 7 years new information about Pluto will be gathered by the New
Horizons spacecraft during the July 2015 close
encounter.(http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/) At that time the former planet Pluto will go
from unknown minor planet to known minor planet.
The author had some wonderful assistance in writing and proof reading the book
from well known artist Mel Hunter. Eight of his beautiful paintings are shown in
black and white and can be found between pages 128 and 129. The last one “The
surface of Pluto, with the Sun in the distance” was the one I was looking at to
create this color crayon drawing that I made in the spring of 1963 some 45 years
I requested and happily received permission from Mel Hunter’s widow sculptor Susan
Smith-Hunter to make this post.
Information about these two talented artists can be found at Smith-Hunter Gallery http://www.smithhuntergallery.com/biogrophies.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Hunter