COLUMBIA – History will be made on July 14 when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft takes the first detailed images of Pluto during its flyby of Pluto and Pluto’s system of moons.
In honor of this major milestone, the South Carolina State Museum will host Plutopalooza from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. July 14 featuring a planetarium “Solar System Tour” focusing on Pluto, live webcasts from NASA on the mission and night observing in the Boeing Observatory.
The first 30 guests will receive a free pocket-size space book.
At 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., guests can see a “Solar System Tour,” a special live Pluto presentation in the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Planetarium. Guests will travel outward through the Solar System, making their way to Pluto, which lies in a far icy realm known as the Kuiper Belt.
The show will highlight why Pluto is special, regardless of how it has been categorized over time. There is an additional fee for this planetarium show.
The State Museum will stream two NASA live webcasts on the importance of the New Horizons mission.
“Mission Status, Hazard Brief, Phone Home Signal” will air from 8 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. and “New Horizons Health and Mission Status” will air from 9:15 p.m. to 10 p.m. The entire museum will be open, including the Boeing Observatory, which will be open throughout the event for night observing (observing is dependent on clear skies), the 4D theater and the current blockbuster exhibit, BUGS! Giant Robotic Creatures.
“We are excited to bring awareness around the New Horizons mission and space exploration,” said State Museum director of education Tom Falvey. “It will be remarkable to experience this important moment in history with others across the globe.”
The State Museum is one of several participating organizations across the world joining NASA to celebrate this important milestone. The fastest spacecraft ever launched, New Horizons has traveled more time and distance — more than nine years and three billion miles — than any space mission in history to reach its primary target.
Its flyby of Pluto and Pluto’s system of at least five moons on July 14 will complete the initial exploration of the classical solar system while opening the door to an entirely new realm of mysterious small planets and planetary building blocks in the Kuiper Belt.
Plutopalooza is included with museum membership or general admission, which is only two for $10 every Tuesday evening. There is an additional fee to see the planetarium “Solar System Tour.” Visit scmuseum.org to learn more.