Alan Stern, principal investigator for the New Horizon mission, reveals his biggest surprise so far as the probe closes in on Pluto. (Recorded 12 July 2015.)
Have you ever seen a dwarf planet? Of the five within our solar system recognised by the International Astronomical Union – Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris – only Ceres can be considered bright and easy to locate. It reaches opposition in the constellation of Scorpius on 29 May at magnitude +7, an easy binocular object if you follow our guide.
On July 14th, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will flyby Pluto, offering the first close-up look at that small, distant world. You can help decide what names will be used on subsequent maps of the dwarf planet and its largest moon, Charon, as the SETI Institute announces the launch of its “Our Pluto” campaign.