Just how dim is the sunlight on Pluto, some three billion miles away? Sunlight is much weaker than it is here on Earth, but it isn’t as dark as you might expect. In fact, for just a moment during dawn and dusk each day, the illumination on Earth matches that of high noon on Pluto. NASA’s calling this “Pluto time”.
If you go outside at “Pluto time” on a clear day, the world around you will be as dim as the surface of Pluto. NASA’s Pluto Time website helps you replicate Pluto’s noontime light conditions from any location in the world. You can find your Pluto Time by entering your location into the NASA tool. It generates the exact time you can step outside and experience the noon light levels of Pluto.
NASA’s New Horizons is the first spacecraft to make a close encounter with Pluto. Following a more than nine-year journey, New Horizons is passing approximately 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) above Pluto’s surface, reaching its closest approach on Tuesday, July 14.
NASA wants to see your view. Take a photo during your Pluto Time – preferably with a local landmark – and share it on social media with #PlutoTime. After the historic flyby, NASA will combine your Pluto Time photos into a mosaic image of Pluto and its moons.
Bottom line: A new NASA website helps space fans replicate “Pluto Time” – Pluto’s noontime light conditions – from any location on Earth.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.