Home > Dwarf Planet, Ephemeris Program, NASA, Pluto > 04/23/2015 – Ephemeris – New Horizons’ first glimpse of Pluto and Charon in color

04/23/2015 – Ephemeris – New Horizons’ first glimpse of Pluto and Charon in color

April 23, 2015

Ephemeris for Thursday, April 23rd.  Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 8:37.   The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 1:44 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the Sun will rise at 6:43.

Last week NASA’s New Horizons team running the spacecraft that’s been in flight to the dwarf planet Pluto released their first color of Pluto and it’s moon Charon.  The photo doesn’t show any surface features.  That’s to come in the next month or two.  However, Pluto shows kind of a pale orange-pink color, hinting of the colorful images to come.  Charon is a dull gray like the dwarf planet Ceres, which Dawn is approaching, and our own Moon.  How could two bodies with a common origin appear so different?  Stay tuned.  New Horizons will pass through the Pluto system in a couple of hours on July 14th, but will send back the mother lode of its data over the next 16 months.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


Pluto and Charon

First color picture of Pluto and its moon Charon taken by the New Horizons spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.  Click to enlarge.

From the NASA website:

“This image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on April 9 and downlinked to Earth the following day. It is the first color image ever made of the Pluto system by a spacecraft on approach. The image is a preliminary reconstruction, which will be refined later by the New Horizons science team. Clearly visible are both Pluto and the Texas-sized Charon. The image was made from a distance of about 71 million miles (115 million kilometers)—roughly the distance from the Sun to Venus. At this distance, neither Pluto nor Charon is well resolved by the color imager, but their distinctly different appearances can be seen. As New Horizons approaches its flyby of Pluto on July 14, it will deliver color images that eventually show surface features as small as a few miles across.”

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