Dwarf Planet Project – 1
One of the projects for this year is to image all of the IAU recognized Dwarf Planets – Pluto, Ceres, Eris, Makemake, and Haumea. I thought this was going to be a bit of a challenge, as all but Ceres are in the Kuiper Belt. But I had identified some 17+ Magnitude galaxies in previous astro photos, so at least the IAU Dwarfs might be in reach.
Since all of these objects are unresolved and star-like, the only way to confirm the sighting would be to “blink” two successive images. A quick bit of calculation showed that objects in the Kuiper Belt would be easily “blink-able” on two successive nights. Two of the Dwarf Planets – Haumea and Makemake came in to opposition this spring, so it was time to give it a shot…
At 17th Magnitude these ended up being pretty easy. I did try to image Orcus, another Kuiper Belt object that may satisfy the requirements for Dwarf Planet, but not yet classified by the IAU. Orcus, at 19th Magnitude, was pretty much at the detection limits of my current telescope and camera system. Will need to make some improvements – larger telescope and more sensitive camera – although the dimmest of the IAU Dwarf Planets, Eris at 18.8 Mv, should be in reach.