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Our Pluto Flyby Experience

Thank you, NASA and the New Horizons team, for your inspiring work leading up to and following the Pluto flyby. Our community near the Michigan-Indiana border--dubbed Michiana--came along for the ride. Here are some excerpts from our #PlutoFlyby experience.

Science Alive Linda Marks introduces the upcoming flyby at the Science Alive, a family science outing at the main Library in South Bend, IN, in February 2015. Name dropping: Alice, Ralph, Rex, and LORRI. And a 3D-printed model of the New Horizons spacecraft seemingly hovers over the room.

Students with the SB150 Young Astronomers program image Pluto with Prompt telescopes atop a mountain in Chile with support from Skynet Junior Scholars. They're not done with Pluto yet as they gear up to make a movie from a fresh sequence of images.

A cool concept conveys the high noon brightness on Pluto by comparing it to the appropriate local twilight moment. Local #PlutoTime scenes include Four Winds Field, home of the South Bend Cubs at which Pluto Time was announced during the ballgame.

The t-shirt for the Michiana Astronomical Society's annual star party features the New Horizons spacecraft, and the black shirt suddenly becomes a trendy fashion item. To Pluto and Beyond.

AstroCamp at YMCA Camp Eberhart in Three Rivers, MI, emphasizes the Pluto flyby in multiple ways, with support from NASA educational resources. See 2015 AstroCamp images.

  • Young campers make Pocket Solar Systems (courtesy of Astronomical Society of Pacific), which are scale models that illustrate the relative distance to Pluto.

  • After perusing NASA Infographics posted around camp, campers share aspects of the Pluto system and the New Horizons mission that intrigued them most. Much variety and much intrigue.

  • Prior to the flyby, they make 3D paper models of Pluto with the surface features imaged by Hubble Space Telescope, to be compared with new imagery after the flyby. What a change in pixels!

  • Watching live NASA TV feeds, we get a front row seat to the excitement of discovery. Hundreds of regular Camp Eberhart attendees also watch live feeds in the dining hall.

  • Two groups of campers make two movies of Pluto moving against background stars with images they requested through Skynet Junior Scholars. Shades of Clyde Tombaugh in blinking images.

  • Older campers patiently build high quality paper models of the New Horizons spacecraft.

  • As they launch water rockets, some campers reflect on the launch of New Horizons and its nearly-ten year journey.

New Horizons Certificate

I forgot I had signed up to have my name on the CD affixed to the New Horizons spacecraft. Thanks for the reminder and printable certificate, #186182.

I saw Pluto through a telescope with my eye--not digital image--for the first time, thanks to AstroCamp counselor Darren Drake.

Below are some images excerpted from our Pluto flyby experience in Michiana, where we went deep with NASA and the New Horizons team.

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