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Ultima Thule Update

According to Astronomy Picture of the Day for 11/2/19 the asteroid Ultima Thule is not two spheres stuck together as it appeared from the angle at which the New Horizons spacecraft approached it but judging from the way stars reappeared from behind it more like a pancake stuck to a walnut, as represented in the graphic below.

Charon Then, and Then Again

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 6/7/2018, this is a picture of Pluto’s moon Charon (though which is primary and which satellite when one’s diameter is only twice the other’s is pushing it) taken by the New Horizons probe in its journey through Pluto’s system.

The inset shows the first ever indication of Charon’s existence – a grainy bump on an indistinct photograph from 40 years ago.

Charon

Fly Over Pluto and Charon

Videos made from actual New Horizons footage and digital models of the surfaces of Pluto and Charon are now on You Tube. (I got the steer from the Daily Galaxy.)

Pluto:-

Charon:-

Atmospheric Pluto

A stunning picture taken by the New Horizons probe of a backlit Pluto showing its hazy but stratified atmosphere appeared on Astronomy Picture of the Day on 9/6/16.

Pluto at Night

Charon from New Horizons

Astronomy Picture of the Day yesterday had a stunning view of Pluto’s moon Charon as taken by the New Horizons probe. The moon looks oddly lop-sided, probably due to the shadowing on its side pointing away from the sun:-

Charon

That’s a big fissure running right across its middle.

Pluto Flyby

It hasn’t taken NASA long to get this New Horizons flyby sequence of Pluto up on You Tube:-

And on Astronomy Picture of the Day on 17/7/15 was this photo of Pluto’s largest moon Charon.

Charon

Wonderful stuff.

Every single time spaceprobes have gone to somewhere as yet unexplored they have yielded unexpected results. This time the youth of Pluto’s surface was a surprise.

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)

Astronomy Picture of the Day was 20 years old on Jun 16th. It has been on a bit of a roll recently.

The Pinwheel Galaxy (Jun 14th):-

Pinwheel Galaxy

The Black Eye galaxy (Jun 18th):-

the black eye galaxy

On 23rd Jun there was this star bubble round Sharpless 2-308:-

Star Bubble

This is a picture of Zeta Ophiuchi (Jul 5th) which is travelling to the left at 24 kilometres per second thus causing the bow-shock in the interstellar dust as shown:-

Zeta Ophiuchi

The next day gave us this picture of clouds near Rho Ophiuchi

Clouds near Rho Ophiuchi

Then Jul 8th had this stunning scene of Dione, Saturn and Enceladus (Saturn is visible only as a faint arc and its rings are edge-on):-

Dione

Fly-over Ceres, Jun 10th, a composite of still pictures:-

It’s exciting times for NASA as New Horizons is getting very close to Pluto. See yesterday’s picture:-

5 million miles from Pluto

Wonderful stuff.

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