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Pluto steals the limelight in stellar block-out

Posted in In the News on June 30th, 2015.

Stargazers this morning caught a glimpse of a rare astronomical event as ‘dwarf planet’ Pluto passed in front of a distant star.

Pluto photographed by the New Horizons spacecraft on 18 June 2015

Pluto photographed by the New Horizons spacecraft on 18 June 2015

Known as a ‘stellar occultation‘, the passing of Pluto in front of the star will allow astronomers to learn more about the dwarf planet, including clues about the make-up of Pluto’s atmosphere. Data collected will also be compared with readings from the New Horizons spacecraft which will pass by Pluto next month.

The event – lasting just 90 seconds – was only visible from New Zealand and parts of Australia, drawing many overseas astronomers to New Zealand to witness the event.

Recent new Zealand coverage of the event and the lead up includes:

Paul Henry Show: Stars ‘wink out’ as Pluto gets in the way
Radio New Zealand: Clear skies offer rare glimpse of Pluto
TVNZ News: Astronomers flock to Otago hoping for rare look at Pluto
3 News: Possible Pluto show in Otago attracting scientists
Stuff.co.nz: Scientists ready for brief view of Pluto
New Zealand Herald: Astronomers flock to NZ for far-flung event
Otago Daily Times: NZ to get a rare glimpse of Pluto
TVNZ News: NASA plane in New Zealand skies to observe rare Pluto event
NZ City News: Clear skies for view of Pluto event

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