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10/29/2015 – Ephemeris – The blue skies of Pluto

October 29, 2015

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 29th.  The Sun will rise at 8:16.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 6:36.   The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 8:40 this evening.

Images from the New Horizons spacecraft are streaming back slowly.  It’s like trying to download a modern megapixel camera image using a thousand to two thousand bits per second telephone modem back in the ’90s.  That’s why the images are dribbling out.  They are released each Thursday or Friday.  One of the last images was a colored image of the ring of atmosphere of Pluto backlit by the Sun, showing that the dwarf planet had a blue sky.  The reason is still debated because there appear to be minute particles thought to be tholins in Pluto’s atmosphere.  These would be colored brown or red.  However they seen to preferentially scatter blue light like the nitrogen molecules in our atmosphere.

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


Pluto in Silhouette

Pluto seen in silhouette, backlit by the Sun in color. Released October 10, 2015 by NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

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