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NASA scientists head to remote Australian town for rare Pluto sighting – Bega District News


Pluto is set to pass in front of a distant star in a “once-in-a-life” astronomical event, and the best place in the world to see it is Katherine, in the Northern Territory.
On the night of Sunday May 29, a group of NASA-funded scientists from the United States will set up 12 telescopes between Darwin and south of Katherine to watch the stellar occultation.
The scientists will be joined by a group of Charles Darwin University students who will assist them with their observations, with the general public also invited to come along.
A community workshop and seminar will be held at CDU’s Katherine rural campus where afterwards the community will be able to meet the astronomers and have an opportunity to look at the stars and planets through the NASA telescopes.
This is the first time that NASA telescopes will be set up in Australia, making it a valuable opportunity for the students and community to get involved.
CDU STEM Pathways lecturer, Dr Carla Eisemberg, said this was a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical observation.
“It is fantastic that NASA is engaging with our CDU students and the community. Their research is fascinating and will help to inspire Territorians interested in careers in technology and science,” Dr Eisemberg said.
The observation will tell astronomers information about the structure and state of Pluto’s atmosphere, seven years after NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft visited Pluto in July 2015.

Activities will kick off at the CDU Katherine campus, Stuary Hwy with a free barbecue at 6.30pm, followed by a talk by the NASA scientists at 7pm and observation between 8 and 10pm.

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