Riding Along with New Horizons at Pluto


During the week of July 13 to 17 we are witness to a momentous event in space exploration. Here’s how to follow along!

During the last week, and next, I’m out of photography for awhile and back into planetarium programming and production mode, my old day-job for decades. What has brought me back to the programming console is the once-in-history exploration of a new world – Pluto by the New Horizons probe.

I’m presenting a live public talk at the TELUS Spark science centre in Calgary on July 16 to present the new images. In the talk I use the amazing Evans and Sutherland Digistar digital planetarium system to fly people along with New Horizons as it makes its historic encounter.

Here, I present images of some of the full-dome immersive scenes I’ve programmed for the lecture. The top image is from the animation that places the audience alongside New Horizons as it flies from Earth and then through the Pluto system.

FirstImages

This image is the template scene into which I’ll drop what we hope will be even better images next week.

KuiperBelt

Here we fly out of the solar system to see the orbit of Pluto and its dwarf planet companions, as well as other objects of the Kuiper Belt, in perspective.

ScenefromPluto

In this scene we land on Pluto to see the sky as it will appear next week during the encounter, complete with moons in the Plutonian sky.

LowellObservatory

To put the mission into historic perspective I also take people inside the observatory where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930.

PhilaeCometLander

And we’ll also visit dwarf planet Ceres, and fly to the Rosetta comet (above) to watch Philae land, and bounce!

For those in the Calgary area able to attend, you can find more details about my July 16 talk at the TELUS Spark website. The talk is in the Digital Dome at 4 pm and is free.


But to follow along with the mission from anywhere on Earth I recommend bookmarking these sites:

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab mission control, the main mission website

NASA TV for live press conferences and special programming

The Planetary Society and Emily Lakdawalla’s blog. This entry provides a detailed schedule of events and image download times.

– Alan, July 11, 2015 / © 2015 Alan Dyer

4 comments on “Riding Along with New Horizons at Pluto”

  1. Hello, I am a teacher and every year I present lessons in our school’s StarLab planitarium. This year I am presenting the life of Pluto from discovery to New Horizons. You have some excellent images. I am wondering if it is OK for me to download and use your images in my planetarium software? I have the Starry Night software.

    • No, those images are mostly screen shots from the Digistar planetarium system and are proprietary to that system. You’ll have to contact the distributors of your system to see what Pluto imagery or scripts they have available or program in your own scenes.

  2. Be sure to try this Eyes on Pluto desktop app to simulate the Pluto flyby as if you were riding along! http://eyes.nasa.gov/eyes-on-pluto.html

  3. Interesting post !

    I wrote something recently on the artefacts carried aboard New Horizons in case it were ever uncovered by alien civilization in the long distance future after it has left the solar system.

    http://thesciencegeek.org/2015/06/21/new-horizons/


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