Can you see MU69? New Horizons can !


Can you see MU69 ? NEW HORIZONS CAN ! A version of this very first stereo image of the Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) also known as Ultima Thule is posted on the official New Horizons website. (I’m proud? !) it was created using the movement of this mysterious rock, over a few days, against the star background to give the necessary parallax – the small shift in position of the object. I challenge you to spot the object WITHOUT free viewing in stereo, or with an OWL or similar stereoscope! But, viewing in 3-D, you will see the faint white dot standing out. Clue: it’s very near the centre of the field. Swipe (twice) to zoom in, and it gets a little easier!

Tod Lauer, who processed these photographs into the form we see, says : 

As seen from the spacecraft, MU69 appears to be in the constellation of Sagittarius, hovering in front of the heart of the Milky Way, not far from the central plane of our galaxy. As such the field is filled with stars in the most crowded and rich area of the sky.

Each half of the pairs of images represents a combination of several dozen images taken with the NH LORRI camera to search for faint companions, rings, and dust clouds around MU69. The first sequence was taken on December 6 when NH was ~32,128,000 km from MU69. (61 30s images for a total exposure of ~ 30 minutes)

The second sequence was obtained a week later on December 13 when NH had closed to ~23,559,000 km from MU69. (40 30s images for 20m total exposure). Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/ Southwest Research Institute/Brian May.

Thanks to Alan Stern.

Ultima Thule - stereo

Ultima Thule stereo

Ultima Thule stereo

NEW HORIZONS !!! – TO EXPLORE !! Here – just for fun – is a more graphic way of seeing the Kuiper Belt Object MU69 – Ultima Thule – which the amazing NEW HORIZONS spacecraft will visit on New Years Day. The probe is heading towards this rock at over 30,000 Miles per hour. This little video was made by successively zooming in on a similar stereo image to the one in my previous post. So the effect of the KBO hurtling towards us here is a convenient illusion ! ENJOY !!! Credit: NASA/John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Brian May/ Claudia Manzoni.

With thanks to Alan Stern.