Pluto Pluto Pluto - It's all about Pluto in July!
Pluto may not be visible to the naked eye but it’s still popular in discussion at our sky shows.
Why? Because it got “demoted”. It’s no longer a planet due to some astro-industry technical definition which formally sorts planets from dwarf planets.
However, Pluto is as popular as ever for many other reasons.
1. It’s a cold, icy far-away part of the Solar System that has mystery and intrigue!
2. It represents the God of the Underworld to some – a fascinating occupation for one of the great Gods in the mythology of our ancient civilisations.
3. It’s a great name for a dog – Disney memories abound!
4. It’s got a cool, super-close and therefore super big moon in its sky!
5. Could keep going, but a final reason is this … New Horizons!
The New Horizons probe will do a spectacular fly by over a critical 48 hour period starting on 14 July 2015 – 11:50 UTC or 9.20pm Australian Central Standard Time here in Broken Hill, NSW.
After 9.5 years, and after travelling about seven billion kilometres, this tiny probe will reach its critical target and get to do the critical close up work – imaging, mapping, analysing, assessing. That’s what this probe has been designed to do. The two day fly by for this close up work is the culmination of more than a decade of planning and waiting.
NASA launched New Horizons in January 2006. At that time, only one moon, Charon, was known about. Since then another four have been identified. New Horizons of course will be focused mainly on Pluto.
Keep up to date with NASA about this impressive mission, at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html.
This is where you’ll learn that Alice, Ralph, Lorri and Rex are not people but valuable instruments that will help humans join the dots about our solar system heritage!
Image Credit: NASA image