Pluto to Make a Star Wink Out 2x This Week
On Thursday tiny Pluto will cause a bright star to fade in the nighttime sky, and an army of astronomers is fanning out across the Pacific to capture the rare event. The unprecedented sky show involves what scientists call an occultation—when an object passes directly in front of a star, as seen from Earth, causing the star to dim temporarily. Starting at 11:15 UT on June 23, Pluto and its largest moon Charon will both occult a very bright star. Just a few days later, beginning at 14:18 UT on June 27, Pluto and its smaller moon Hydra will each pass in front of a different bright star.
"We’ve never had an event like this one we’re seeing now," said team member Leslie Young of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “We’re getting two bright stars, both brighter than Pluto itself—as seen from Earth—occulting Pluto just about four days apart.”…
(read more: National Geo)
(image: Pluto and its three known moons—Charon, Nix, and Hydra—as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, by NASA/ESA/H. Weaver (JHU/APL)/A. Stern (SwRI)/HST Pluto Companion Search Team)