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Best Of 2015 (January – December 2015)

Moritz Schmidt

Flowers in Horticultural Show in Muehlacker

David Schaubert

2015 - The Year of Pluto

Pluto Discovery Dome, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

December 5, 2015, 2019 UTC (1:19PM local)

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© 2015 David Schaubert, All Rights Reserved.

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Caption

This is the 13-inch Astrograph (a telescope designed for Astrophotography) located on the top floor of the Pluto Discovery Dome at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, USA.

The equipment is still fully functional, although considered obsolete compared to current technology. The Astrograph is mounted on an equatorial mount that tracks the apparent movement of the sky, but must be continually adjusted during long exposures by an operator using a hand-held controller (seen laying on the base pillar) and a guide-star watched through the guide-scope attached on the side of the Astrograph tube.

The exposures are taken on glass plates mounted inside the flat-black rectangle mounted at the base of the Astrograph. The observatory maintains over 30,000 of these negatives taken by this and other telescopes at the observatory.

2015 - The Year of Pluto!

85 years ago, Clyde Tombaugh used this 13-inch astrograph to take photographs of the same section of sky several nights apart. He then used a blink-comparator to compare the different images looking for movement. The discovery was made on Tuesday, February 18, 1930, using images taken the previous month.

In 2006, NASA's New Horizons Probe was launched on an Atlas V Rocket achieving a launch velocity of 36,000 mph, the highest ever achieved. On July 14, 2015, New Horizons passed 7800 miles above Pluto yielding high resolution images showing significant geological detail. New Horizons communicates with Earth using a 12 watt X-band transceiver. When at Pluto, signals sent by the probe will travel 3 billion miles to reach Earth about 4.5 hours later.  The data rate at this distance is one kbit/second, which means that it will take about 16 months to send all images and data from the Pluto flyby back to Earth.

One ounce of Clyde Tombaugh's ashes were included in the New Horizons probe as a tribute to the discoverer.
For more information, visit the Lowell Observatory site http://www.lowell.edu

Location

USA-Canada / USA-Arizona

Lat: 35° 12' 14.17" N
Long: 111° 39' 56.72" W

Elevation: 7275 feet

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: High. Pinpoints the exact spot.

Equipment

Canon XTi (400D) DSLR, Sigma 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens, Velbon D-580 Tripod, Apple MacPro 2008 (dual-quad 2.8GHz), PTGui Pro 10.13, Photoshop CS5 Extended, Pano2VR 4.5.3

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