Pluto in 2008

Such a tiny speck, such a big fuss. Every schoolkid knows that sad little Pluto has been banished from our solar system’s planetary roster. Nevertheless it’s still Pluto — and a cherished prize for backyard astronomers.

Click above to download a printable, full-page PDF showing all of Pluto's path from May through November 2008.
S&T Illustration
Pluto's very faintness (magnitude 14.0!) makes it a sought-after challenge. You’ll probably need at least an 8- or 10-inch scope and a dark sky toward the south (Pluto is in the northwestern corner of Sagittarius this year). And you’ll need your best chart-using skills.

Click here to download a full-page printable PDF showing Pluto's path through the stars from May through November 2008 — the entire period during which it's visible from mid-northern latitudes. Most people will probably prefer to view Pluto from mid-June through mid-September, when the ex-planet is well-placed in the evening sky.

After downloading the chart, you might want to crop in on the part you need and print it big. The chart shows stars down to 13th magnitude, not quite as faint as Pluto. The date ticks on Pluto’s track are for 0h Universal Time. Using a millimeter ruler and calculator, put a pencil dot on the track for the date and time you’ll observe. Come back and check for the object’s motion from night to night. (And remember that if you use a star diagonal to get a convenient viewing angle, it’s probably showing you a mirror image of what’s on star maps.)

3 thoughts on “Pluto in 2008

  1. Lisa

    Are there any articles that explain how to read these things? Where IS sagittarius? (at or about latitude 39.878 and longitude -74.859)? I need more “idiot” instructions!

  2. Tom Schieding

    Your chart really doesn’t have enough information on it to find Pluto. Where exactly in western Sag is your chart?
    You haven’t identified any stars on the chart nor do you have any indication of coordinates.

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