Just two weeks before NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft arrives at Pluto, the dwarf planet will pass directly in front of a 12th-magnitude star and give Earthbound astronomers an opportunity to investigate the size, position, and structure of this distant world. Slooh will hold a live broadcast of the event on June 29, 2015 in collaboration with our feed partners in Australia.
The occultation will be visible from extreme southeastern Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The predicted time of mid-occultation is 16:54:38 UT, and the entire event will last as long as two minutes. As 14th-magnitude Pluto passes in front of the 12th-magnitude star, the joint brightness of the pair will drop by about ⅔ before brightening again.
The event has the potential to yield observations of real scientific value, and an international campaign has been organized to monitor the occultation. By precisely measuring the timing and brightness variation during the occultation, astronomers can get a more accurate determination of the diameter of Pluto, more detailed information about its atmosphere, probe for more satellites or rings in the Pluto system, and establish more accurately the position of Pluto to aid in further occultation predictions.
Join Slooh astronomers for live coverage of this important event on June 29, 2015.