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July 1st , 2014 Contacts: Patrick Paolucci [email protected] 877­427­5664 x3 SLOOH CELEBRATES DWARF PLANET NIGHT WITH CERES DANCING WITH ASTEROID VESTA WHILE PLUTO REACHES OPPOSITION Asteroids. Minor planets. Dwarf planets. The distinction is blurry even to some astronomers. No matter: three of the largest and most famous are making headlines this week. One of the brightest asteroids, Vesta (525 km or 326 mi), “meets” the dwarf planet Ceres (950 km or 590 mi) just above the bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo. Vesta and Ceres are two of the four original big asteroids discovered at the start of the 19th century ­­ it is rather rare for them to “meet” in the same small piece of sky while also being easily visible through backyard telescopes. Both are unique. Vesta is the only asteroid that sometimes reaches naked­eye visibility, thanks to being whiter than any other. Ceres is spherical, possibly contains a thin atmosphere like Pluto, and, also like Pluto, is now officially classed as a “dwarf planet.” Pluto ­­ demoted from a “planet” to a “dwarf planet” in 2006, reaches its opposition on July 4 ­­ when it is opposite from the Sun in our sky. Opposition always occurs on or within a few days of its very closest approach. It will not come this close again for more than two centuries. Moreover, next July the New Horizons spacecraft will finally zoom past Pluto after nine years of traveling from Earth ­­ it was the fastest ever spacecraft. So this is the final Pluto “opposition” in which that tiny world will most likely retain its mysteries. Slooh will highlight the two dwarf planets along with asteroid Vesta on Thursday night, July 3rd, starting at 5:00 pm PDT / 8:00 pm EDT / 00:00 UTC (7/4), live from Slooh observatories located in the northern and southern hemispheres. The northern hemisphere observatory is located off the west coast of Africa, at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, and the southern hemisphere observatory is located at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) near Santiago. Viewers can watch the broadcast free on The image stream will be accompanied by discussions led by Slooh host Geoff Fox, Slooh astronomer Bob Berman, and Slooh observatory engineer Paul Cox. Viewers can follow updates on the show by using the hashtag #Sloohdwfplanet. While 7th magnitude Vesta is easily viewable through binoculars, Ceres at magnitude 8.5 is more challenging; both require using good astronomical charts. As for Pluto, which is only 2/3 the size of our Moon, even experienced backyard astronomers often find its faint 14th magnitude a major challenge through backyard telescopes: It is a thousand time fainter than the dimmest naked­eye stars. “Pluto remains a popular world,” says Slooh astronomer Bob Berman. “And the public is still unhappy with the decision to demote it from the ranks of major planets. One reason is its shared name with Walt Disney’s only non­speaking character. It’s not well­known, but that lovable dog was originally named Rover in an earlier cartoon. In 1931, the Disney folks decided to exploit the global publicity of that newly found planet, and changed the character’s name.” Added Berman, “This first week of July marks Pluto’s closest approach until the 23rd century, and its final one before its secrets are finally revealed by New Horizons craft, which makes this a compelling ‘opposition.’ And Ceres and Vesta coming together in Virgo is very cool too. Having this three­for­one special at the Slooh community observatory makes for a unique program.” Dwarf Planet Night Broadcast Details: Start time:
July 3rd at 5:00 PM PDT / 8:00 PM EDT / 00:00 UTC (7/4) Link: Hashtag:
#Sloohdwfplanet Embed ­ please link back to <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> Slooh Media Policy: We own all copyright rights in the text, images, photographs, video, audio, graphics, user interface, and other content provided on Slooh live broadcasts. At times, we may include additional content from NASA or other official partners to help explain what’s happening in the live image feed. A Slooh watermark will be included on our live feed. Slooh may run a house ad prior, during, or after any broadcast to highlight the Slooh Community Membership program. You may embed our feeds into your coverage so long as courtesy of Slooh is located next to the feed with a link back to You may not alter or modify our broadcast in any way, unless provided with written permission to do so. About Slooh Since 2003 Slooh has connected ground­based telescopes to the Internet for access by the broader public. Slooh members have taken over 2.4m photos of over 40,000 celestial objects, and participated in numerous discoveries with leading astronomical institutions. Slooh’s automated observatories develop celestial images in real­time for broadcast to the Internet. Slooh’s technology is protected by Patent No.: US 7,194,146 B2 which was awarded in 2006. Slooh’s flagship observatory is situated on Mt. Teide in the Canary Islands, in partnership with the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC). Slooh has also broadcast live celestial events from partner observatories in Arizona, Japan, Hawaii, Cyprus, Dubai, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. Slooh’s free live broadcasts of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), comets, transits, eclipses, solar activity etc. feature narration by astronomy experts Bob Berman and Paul Cox and are syndicated to media outlets worldwide. Slooh signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA in March 2014 to "Bring the Universe to Everyone and Help Protect Earth, Too"