New Horizons made its historic fly-by of Pluto

Yesterday was a momentous occasion. July 14, 2015, will forever be known as the day New Horizons made its historic fly-by of Pluto. The closest it got to Pluto was 12,500 km from the surface, at 7:49 am EDT. At that time, 1,200+ executives, scientists, and guests counted down as it reached its closest approach. Later that night, the very same people cheered as they heard back from the intrepid explorer, signalling that it is safe and out of harms way. It is now moving away from Pluto at breathtaking speeds, marking humanity’s first encounter with the last unexplored traditional Solar System planet.

The picture below is one of many pictures it brought back for us, which revealed its unique surface features for the first time after many years of secrecy. Check it out:

Today, an image will be released by NASA showing a picture of Pluto up close and personal. I can’t wait!

Congratulations to the many people who worked on New Horizons ! ‪#‎PlutoFlyby‬

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You Can See The Dark Side from Here

On January 22, 2015, the sky was very clear, and I saw a beautiful, thin, crescent Moon. In contrast with the surrounding sky, you could also see an outline of the whole moon, despite the fact it is mostly unilluminated. I imaged it using my father’s Telephoto lens, and the images turned out really well.

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2 Day old Crescent Moon 1/400″ exposure, f/5.6, ISO 1600

 

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2 Day old Crescent Moon. Old Moon in New Moon’s Cradle. 1/3″ exposure, f/5.6, ISO 1600

The image was so good, I wanted to take my telescope out and image it using that. The results were very good:

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2 Day Old Crescent Moon 1/30″ exposure, f/10, ISO 1600

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Is this a Dim Moon???

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Nope! It’s a 2 Day old Moon. Old Moon in New Moon’s Cradle. 1.6″ exposure, f/10, ISO 1600

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4.3″ exposure, f/10, ISO 1600

The resulting images were a great improvement compared to my earlier images. It was a sight to see the Moon so thin like that. However, something else caught my eye. A red star close to the Moon. I slewed to it, and took a few images:

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A don’t know what the star is beside it, but the red star looks like Mars. 10.1″ exposure, f/10, ISO 1600

After some time, after asking my father for help identifying it, my father told me that it was Mars. I was surprised to see Mars at this time. It was so far from Earth, that you wouldn’t be able to see anything from it. Nevertheless, it was a good image.

Sadly, the clouds started rolling in, and the Moon and Mars became obscured by a thick cloud, which ended my astronomy session. All this was in preparation for January 23/24’s event when Jupiter will do a triple-transit, and two of it’s Moon’s shadows merge. I still need to process the photos, so stay tuned.