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.
Backlit by the Sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 15. This global portrait of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometres) from the dwarf planet.
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.