Telescope Nerd » How To See » How to See Pluto With A Telescope?

How to See Pluto With A Telescope?

Pluto is mostly known as a dwarf planet. You cannot see Pluto with a small or low-powered telescope. Only a large aperture telescope with high magnifications and show you its appearance. It is situated at the very edge of the solar system. It is not a shiny object having a magnitude of 14.4. To observe this object, you need at least an 8-inch telescope with a very dark sky, a star chart or app, and obviously a lot of patience.

Quick Guide to Observe Pluto

The furthest object in our solar system is Pluto. To thoroughly verify the position and timing, use an astronomy app. Use an automatic finder or point your telescope toward Pluto once it is aligned and ready to use. Pluto will be visible as a recognizable bright red disc. Focus on Pi () Sagittarii (magnitude +2.8), the star just east and above the bottom of the spoon, after locating the Teaspoon. Place this star in the center of your finderscope and move it slightly to the southeast, to HD 179201 at +6.4 magnitude. Pluto is currently 1° east of the star and a little to the north of it. Your telescope should have an aperture of at least 8 inches. Pluto can only be seen with 200x magnification.

Before we begin, choose a star chart.

Pluto is the furthest object in our solar system. It is not visible to unaided eyes. Use a star chart or phone app like SkySafari 6, Stellarium, etc to find it out and then point the telescope in that direction.

How to find Pluto?

  1. Use an astronomy app to validate the location and timing in detail. Pluto is the most distant object in the solar system. It is small and faint. That makes it impossible to find Pluto with unaided eyes.
  2. Locate the Teaspoon first, then concentrate on Pi () Sagittarii (magnitude +2.8), the star immediately east and above the spoon’s bottom. 
  3. Slide your finderscope to a little under 1° southeast and center HD 179201 at +6.4 magnitude. Pluto’s position right now is 1° east and a little north of the star.
  4. When your telescope is aligned and ready to use, aim the scope toward Pluto or use an automatic finder. Pluto will appear as a distinct bright red disc.

What is the best time to observe Pluto?

Pluto takes 367 days to reach opposition, which is almost once every year. Pluto is a faint object. Its largest moon Charon is not much smaller than it. Pluto reached opposition this year at 2h UT on July 20. So the next opposition will be on July 21, 2023. 

When Is Pluto at its Brightest in the sky?

In opposition on July 2022, Pluto glowed at magnitude 14.9. But on August 26, it faded by around 0.2 magnitudes. At the end of the year, the brightness will be around 15.2. 

How to find Pluto with your phone?

Install the stargazing app to find Pluto. Hold your phone standstill and open the app. The app will update your screen in real-time and indicate what is there in front of you.

2 Tips to observe Pluto in the best way.

  • Use a telescope with a long focal length. This will make Pluto more visible as it makes the field of view narrow. 
  • Use a telescope with as large an aperture as possible. Your telescope should have at least an 8-inch aperture.

What can you see on Pluto with a telescope?

  • With an 8-inch telescope you will get a dot indistinguishable from the nearby stars.
  • With a 10-inch telescope, a small light blue appearance with patches of the planet will be visible.
  • It has 5 moons. But with an 11 inch telescope, you will be able to see only the moon named Charon.

What telescope to see Pluto?

Meade 8″ f/4 LX85 Astrograph Reflector, Orion 8″ f/8 Ritchey Chretien Reflecting OTA Telescope, Celestron Starsense Explorer 10″ Dobsonian Smartphone Telescope, Meade 10″ ACF LX90 Telescope, AG Optical 10″ iDK f/6.7 Imaging Dall Kirkham are great telescopes to see Pluto. A list of telescopes to see the planet Pluto has more telescope options that can see Pluto very clearly.

What size telescope to see Pluto?

The bigger the aperture, the better the view. You can start with an 8-inch telescope to spot the dot. But you should take at least an 11-inch telescope to observe the planet.

What magnification is required to see Pluto?

You will require 200x magnification to spot Pluto. But to get the disk-like view you need magnification of more than 500x-700x. 

Enjoying Pluto? Here are other things to see with a telescope

Pluto is the most distant object in this solar system from the sun. However, there are a lot of things observable inside and outside the solar system. The same 8-11 inch telescope used to view Pluto can show amazing views of our own moon, planets, galaxies, nebulae, and many other deep sky objects with high contrast. Viewing Binary stars Through A Telescope & Viewing Galaxy Through A Telescope can guide you to observe these outer solar system objects in the best ways. Moreover, you can go through  ‘List of things to see with a telescope’ to get a long list of objects to observe with proper guidance.