New Horizons spacecraft mission celebrated at Sachtleben Observatory

UPDATE: Due to the forecast, Plutopalooza has been moved to July 25.

On Friday, July 10, Saturday, July 25, a special observatory program “Plutopalooza” is taking place at the Hastings College Sachtleben Observatory in honor of New Horizons, NASA’s space probe mission to the dwarf planet Pluto. A program will take place from 9:30 to 10:00 p.m., followed by observing from 10:00 to 11:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Launched on January 19, 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft is nearing the purpose of its journey: offering the first close-up views of Pluto and its moons. The spacecraft will pass about 7,750 miles from Pluto and about 17,900 miles from its moon Charon. After passing Pluto, New Horizons has the potential to explore additional Kuiper Belt Objects.

“Interest in Pluto and the New Horizons spacecraft is so high, it deserves a program of its own,” said Dan Glomski, the Observatory’s Program Director. “The images from New Horizons could very well be the only close-up views of Pluto we receive in our lifetimes.

This is also the first time that I’ve offered direct views of Pluto through a telescope. It’s not easy to see, though – even in a big telescope,” Glomski added.

As part of Plutopalooza, treats will be available, including a sheet cake featuring photos of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto, and New Horizons the spacecraft.

Visitors will be able to view Pluto using an electronic camera and a large telescope. Views of other celestial objects will also be available, including views of Saturn.

The program is offered weather permitting and will be cancelled if skies are cloudy.

For more information, check out the Sachtleben Observatory of Hastings College Facebook page or call Starline (402) 462-7378 after 5:00 p.m. Friday, July 10 for updates. For directions to the observatory, go to hastings.edu/observatory.

Future observatory program dates for 2015 include:

  • July 25 – 9:30 p.m.
  • August 8, 22 – 9:30 p.m.
  • September 5, 19 – 9:00 p.m.
  • October 3, 17 – 8:30 p.m.
  • November 7, 21 – 7:30 p.m.
  • December 5, 19 – 7:30 p.m.

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