Use your backyard astro gear to detect objects at the edge of the solar system!

February 8, 2019 - Reading time: ~1 minute

Well, maybe. Astronomers in Japan discovered a new Kuiper belt object (KBO), a rock with a 1.3km radius at the edge of our Solar System. That's more than 7.1 billion km, 4.4 billion miles away. What makes this story particularly remarkable is the equipment used to make the discovery, a pair of Celestron 11" RASA astrographs--basically something I can purchase from many astronomy equipment vendors. That's what is so amazing. Equipment powerful enough to detect 1.3 kilometer-sized chunks of rock at the edge of our solar system is easily available to amateur astronomers. This is my "artist's rendering", with the rock occulting a bright background star, which is the method used by the astronomers to detect it. Here's the article in Nature Astronomy: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-018-0685-8