How, and Why, to See Tuesday’s Pluto Fly-By

Mason astronomy professor Michael Summers is a key member of the New Horizons team that is preparing for Tuesday’s fly-by of Pluto. Among other things, Summers will be analyzing Pluto’s atmosphere as the spaceship soars past the orb.

The planetary scientist has played a key role in the exploration of the icy dwarf planet, and will be observing from the control room at the mission operations center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Columbia, Md. He has suggestions for other Earth-bound observers to enjoy the encounter.

But first, what’s so big about Pluto? “Pluto is our first exploration of the dwarf ice planets in our outer solar system,” said Summers. “Understanding Pluto is the next step in understanding the huge diversity of planets in our universe.”

Where to see it: NASA New Horizons website will show the best detail of Pluto and Pluto’s moon, Charon. There will be lectures and mission updates NASA’s website. Follow along on social media (@NASANewHorizons; #PlutoFlyby;


Mason’s Harold Geller can talk about Pluto on kid-friendly terms. He’s the director of Mason’s telescope, which is the largest on-campus telescope in the mid-Atlantic states.

Geller recently wrote a book that uses his guinea pig, Pluto, to discuss space exploration.

Media Contact: Michele McDonald,, 703-993-8781

This article originally appeared on Mason News

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