Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2002 September 11
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Pluto & Charon Eclipse a Triple Star
Credit: NACO Team, 8.2-meter VLT (Yepun), ESO

Explanation: Occasionally, a planet in our Solar System will pass in front of a bright star. Since stars and planets take up so little space on the sky, such events are quite rare. Two months ago, however, Pluto and its large moon Charon passed in front of a comparatively bright triple star system known as P126. By noting how P126 A dimmed, the event was useful for studying Pluto's relatively unknown atmosphere. A Very Large Telescope in Chile using a deformable mirror to counter the blurring effect of Earth's atmosphere captured the above image.

Tomorrow's picture: Tycho Brahe's Exploding Star

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.