2003 EL61

Contributed by
Jul 30, 2005
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In the entry before this one, I talked about the two newly-discovered objects out past Pluto. When I heard that one of them was at 18th magnitude, I wondered if it could be detected with a telescope my group has set up (by my group, I mean the education and public group of which I am a member).

18th magnitude is pretty faint, about 1/60000th as bright as the faintest star you can see with your unaided eye. But we have a decent setup, so I went for it last night with a co-worker, Logan. Today, I took the images, cleaned them up a bit (just a bit; I didn't want to spend more time making them pretty-- I just wanted to see if we could see the object!) and added them all together. Here is the result.

2003 EL61 is arrowed (click on the image for a bigger version). At least, I think that's it. I have an image of that region taken many years ago, and the bright stars in Logan's and my image are there, all except for that one. So I suspect that's it. We can't be sure until we get more images and see if that object moves. Unfortunately, our images from last night weren't all that hot; the guiding on the 'scope was off. We'll try again tonight. If it comes out better I'll post the images.

A funny note: I had an interview on Coast to Coast AM about this object and UB313, the other giant iceball. These observations were being made while I was on the radio! GORT, our telescope, is remotely controlled. So Logan and I were connected to the telescope control computer (Logan at his house, me at mine) while he controlled the 'scope, and I was IMing him with comments. What an odd way to do science!