Can I See Pluto And Other Dwarf Planets With A Telescope?

Pluto was discovered in 1930, but in recent years it has become a divisive issue for modern astronomers.  Some say that the planet is too small to be considered a planet at all. Others say that it should still be called a planet because it is very similar to Jupiter and Saturn, and has a legion of dedicated fans. 

image of pluto through a telescope

If you want to see Pluto (or any other dwarf planet in the night sky) with your own eyes, then you need to get yourself a telescope. This article will guide you through all the necessary factors you will have to control if you want to spot one of these plants, and teach you exactly what you should be looking for. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know!

What Is A Dwarf Plant? 

Planets are defined by the IAU as large celestial bodies orbiting around the Sun. These bodies must be big enough for their gravity to pull the mass of the planet into a spherical shape.

Also, these bodies must be the dominant body in their orbits, meaning that they clear out the debris from other objects in their orbit.

Dwarf planets are smaller than regular planets, and do not meet the requirements of the IAU. Dwarf Planets are celestial bodies orbiting around the sun. Pluto is the most famous dwarf planet because of its size and distance from the sun. It was also considered a planet by the IAU until 2006.

Eris is the second-largest dwarf planet, and it is the furthest away from the sun. Pluto is smaller than Eris, and it is the third-smallest dwarf planet overall. Ceres is the smallest dwarf planet in the solar system, and it is the closest to the sun.

Pluto is a former planet, now a dwarf planet. Dwarf Planets are rocky worlds that failed to clear out debris from their orbits. Scientists discovered that Pluto’s orbit was littered with rocks of similar size as Pluto.

This means that Pluto is no longer considered a full member of the Solar System. Pluto is still an interesting astral body to study, though, despite being demoted in 2006. 

IN 2014, the IAU named four more dwarf planets: Eris (of the scattered disc social system), Ceres (of the  asteroid belt solar system), Makemake (of the Kuiper belt solar system) and Haumea (of the Kuiper belt solar system). 

Can I See Pluto With My telescope? 

You can see Pluto, but you’ll need a big telescope with a large aperture to do it, something like a large aperture Dobonian. You can read our guide on the best Dobsonian telescopes here. It’s located at the edge of our solar system, and it glows at a faint magnitude of 13.9. It’s about two-thirds the diameter of Earth’s Moon which makes it harder to see, especially as it is so far away.

To spot it, you’ll need dark skies, a good scope, a star chart, lots of patience, and plenty of time. Pluto moves around the sky very slowly. It doesn’t move much against the background stars. It seems like a tiny dot in the sky.

You can see it moving across the sky over several nights, but this movement is basically imperceptible to the human eye. Pluto appears as a faint star in your telescope, and you should be patient if you want to observe it.

A good thing about planets and dwarf planets is that they move around the sun. The star chart shows the positions of the most important stars in the sky. You can choose any star to find out how far Pluto travels per day.

With a 200x lens, you should be able to see the movement of Pluto during the course of two or three days. Because Pluto is the smallest planet in our solar system, you will have to be watching very closely to see it!

You Will Need A Telescope

A good starter telescope will cost around $300-400 dollars, which is not bad considering what you are getting, however we recommend a scope somewhere closer to the $1000 mark. You can also buy used telescopes from places like Amazon or eBay, so if you have some extra cash lying around, this might be an option for you.

A lot of people who use their telescopes on a regular basis also have them professionally aligned. This means that they will take the time to make sure that the optics inside the telescope are perfectly aligned.

If you do not align your telescope, then you may end up seeing things like double stars, or even worse, nothing at all. Aligning your telescope is really important, and it is well worth spending the money on professional help.

How Big Does My Telescope Need To Be? 

The bigger, the better. The more magnification you get, the easier it will be to see the objects you are trying to look at. However, you will also need to consider how much light pollution there is in your area. Light pollution comes from many sources, including streetlights, car headlights, and even satellites.

These artificial lights will wash out whatever you are trying to observe. If you live in the countryside, you probably don’t have to worry about light pollution, but if you live somewhere else, such as a city or suburb, you may need to invest in a filter. A filter is simply a piece of glass that sits over the front of the lens of your telescope.

Can I See Eris With My Telescope? 

Eris is a dwarf planet about 1/3 as big as Pluto, but it doesn’t shine brightly enough to be visible with a telescope – you would need to have a specialist telescope to spot this one.

Can I See Makemake With My Telescope? 

Makemake is the second-brightest object in the Kuiper Belt after our favorite dwarf planet Pluto, with a magnitude of 17. Unfortunately, it can’t be spotted with your average telescope, and can only be seen with a specially designed telescope. 

Can I See Ceres With My Telescope?

Ceres is the smallest of the five dwarf planets. It is the closest of all the dwarf planets to earth. On perfectly dark nights, you could see it with binoculars or a telescope. But, it’s hard to spot because it’s so small, especially on nights that are not perfect for scoping. Nevertheless, it should be visible at magnitudes 6.7 to 9.3.

Final Thoughts

Our solar system consists of a variety of celestial bodies including planets, dwarf planets, rocks, and asteroids. Pluto used to be the ninth planet in our system, but has now been reclassified as a dwarf planet.

Pluto is not the only dwarf planet in the universe, however – four other dwarf planets are currently known and officially recognized as such: Ceres, Eris (or Dysnomia), MakeMake, and Haumea.

You can see Pluto with a telescope, and under certain conditions/with a specialist telescope, you can see the others as well.

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