Galaxies Astronomy Club

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We keep our star talk down to earth! Beginning stargazers, professional astronomers, armchair astronauts and the cosmologically curious are all invited to join us. Galaxies Astronomy Club was founded in 1994.

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New Horizons Is Awake At Pluto   The Planets + Pluto!

Started 2/26/10 by GALAXIES; 148390 views.

They say it will take another 16 months to download all of the data captured during the fly-by.

If only Sir Patrick Moore and Carl Sagan could have lived to see this.

I think "The Sky at Night" due to when in the month the BBC puts it may treat the British to some live coverage of the fly-by, much like Ted Koppel did with Nightline back in 1981 with the Voyager fly-by of Saturn.

Of course these days, I worry about the current American generations and how they are so pre-occupied with so many trivial things to get all worked up over that real science and discovery has lost its fascination.

Much like that afternoon on June 6, 2012 in the Sam's parking lot with a spotting scope on a tripod and full aperture safety filter and some #12 welders' filters, and how few even wanted to take a look at Venus crossing the face of the sun for the last time in this lifetime, because it was too much bother. That lack of interest speaks volumes on where our civilization appears to be headed.

I was telling people then as they just walked on by, "better take your vitamins and exercise because it's another 127 years till it happens again."

Maybe it's because we have so many people who are physically unfit that they couldn't survive a few more seconds out in the summer heat away from air conditioning and a steady supply of cold drinks to look through a telescope at a once in a lifetime event (well, twice, because some folks saw the 2008 transit).

Speaking of not as rare events, I need to get the 4.5 inch scope out in another couple of hours and try to get some good pictures of Venus and Jupiter in close conjunction, then move the camera to the wide angle lens and fixed tripod for the fireworks.


That clock is ticking down awfully fast, as the gravitational steering window from the precise fly-by trajectory is getting narrower and narrower with each passing minute. I don't know how much fuel is left on the spacecraft, but I'd doubt it has more than a few hundred feet per second of delta-V to tweak its final trajectory after it has gone past Pluto, which might not be enough to reach a second target.

While before fly-by, tweaking the corridor it passes through going by Pluto by only a couple of feet per second can make a difference of several degrees in any direction desired for the post-flyby path towards interstellar space to take a look at something else interesting.

Of course most people are clueless as to just how vast and empty the outer solar system is, even passing through a "dense cloud" of Kupier belt objects. The separation between them is still enormous, and getting close enough to a second one to get useful data requires some rather precise cosmic billiards.

Meanwhile, the sci-fi movie effects folk depict clouds of floating rock and ice that the heroes have to violently maneuver to avoid colliding with. I tend to either cringe at or laugh at inappropriate moments when watching those shows when they get the science so totally wrong, especially when it is used as a device to move the plot along several times in only 90 minutes.



From: Cstar1


If you get any good pictures, I hope you'll share!


From: Cstar1


For some reason, I was under the impression it had plenty of fuel.

I think the article said only a few hundred feet per second remaining delta-v fuel.

Found it: "They have discovered 52 faint objects, but none that New Horizons can get to. The closest-found object, 2011 HZ102, would require New Horizons to change its speed by 210 meters per second. It has only enough fuel to achieve 130 meters per second."

130 meters per second is 5,118 inches per second velocity change. This is 426.5 feet per second, or 1,535,430 feet per hour, which is 290.8 miles per hour. While that seems fast if you're driving a dragster, for a spacecraft, that is a very small velocity change, not much more than a space shuttle de-orbit burn velocity change.

Out of more than 36,000 mph or so, this is a vector that is less than 1% from the primary trajectory.

It also looks like they are not going to do a small burn prior to the Pluto fly-by to get a gravitational assist to get more total delta-V out of the fuel that is left to target another Kupier Belt object.

At least they got a lot of Hubble time to find more objects, not sure if they actually have any candidates picked out for a close fly-by.


Either they were right on top of each other in an occultation, or the haze / seeing was too poor to see both Venus and Jupiter.

Just cranked up Stellarium to see what's really going on and when.

Closest conjunction was the night of June 30th. But Jupiter is magnitude -1.36, while Venus is -4.15, nearly 3 orders of magnitude brighter, so I suspect it's the haze that made Venus visible like a streetlight in fog, while Jupiter just vanished in the haze and light pollution from town off to the northwest.


In reply toRe: msg 55

From: Cstar1


This stamp is actually flying on New Horizons to Pluto. It's from 1991, a part of the solar system set.


This is the proposed new stamp, but I haven't figured out yet if it ever got beyond the proposal/petition stage. 

In reply toRe: msg 56

From: Cstar1



CDP (PerraultC)

From: CDP (PerraultC)


Looking forward to when they can actually make the change!