Last week, Pluto passed in front of what looks like a dark patch in the sky, and astrophotographer John Chumack was ready to capture the event. The dark patch is actually Barnard 92, a dark nebula. Since Pluto is usually very hard to see among the background of stars, it stands out against this dark nebula which blocks out the background stars. Still, Pluto – distant and dim as it is – is just a faint point of light, so John took special measures. “Although Pluto was easily visible in a short 5 minute exposure, I took an hour exposure to show the Dark nebula and the ‘rich & pretty’ surrounding star field,” he said.
The image was taken from John’s observatory in Yellow Springs, Ohio, using his homemade 16” Newtonian telescope and a QHY8CCD single shot color camera, captured from 01:00am until 02:00 am E.S.T. on July 6, 2010. Pluto and B92 sits within the large Sagittarius Star Cloud, M24.
Great shot, John! For more wonderful astronomical images, check out John’s website, Galactic Images.