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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Star Night, April 2019

speaker for this evening will be Dr. John Spencer from Southwest Research
Institute in Boulder and the title of his talk will be “The Furthest Flyby: New
Horizons Visits Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69”.

On January
1, 2019, deep in the Kuiper Belt a billion miles beyond Pluto, the New Horizons
spacecraft flew past the small object 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule, making
MU69 the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft.  New Horizons revealed MU69 to be a primordial
contact binary, unlike any object ever seen before, providing a window on the
earliest stages of planetary formation.  Dr.
Spencer will describe the discovery of MU69, the planning of the flyby, and
what has been learned from the data returned so far.

Spencer is an Institute Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in
Boulder, CO, and is a Deputy Project Scientist on the New Horizons

He led the
search that resulted in the discovery of MU69, and also led the planning of New
Horizon’s observations during the encounter. 
He also works on NASA’s Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids, and the
NASA Europa Clipper mission.

Weather permitting after the presentation,
visitors will be invited to look through the large telescope at various celestial
objects. Public star nights are held the third Friday of each month, except
July, when the LTO is closed for annual maintenance.

If you have any questions, please call the
observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at

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