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The Kuiper Belt: Way Out There
A Grand Tour of the Solar System

Presented in partnership with George Mason University Observatory

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0374
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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A composite image of one of the many icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt, created from data captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko)

Pluto was the first discovered object in the Kuiper Belt, which contains hundreds of thousands of icy bodies near and beyond Neptune's orbit. The orbits of Kuiper Belt objects provide information about the formation of our solar system, how the planets moved around in the past, and whether there might be an undiscovered planet lurking in the very distant solar system.

The New Horizons probe is currently passing through the Kuiper Belt after flying past Pluto in 2015 and then tiny Arrokoth in 2019, but most exploration of the Kuiper Belt is conducted via telescopes on Earth. Samantha Lawler, an astronomy professor at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, discusses how these meticulous observations and simulations are carried out and how future observations could be threatened by light pollution from satellites.

Series Information

The Grand Tour of the Solar System series treks to the Sun and the four inner terrestrial planets before traveling outward to the asteroid belt, four Jovian planets, and beyond. At each session, a professional astronomer explores a solar system body, presenting the latest research.

Following the talk and a question-and-answer period, Peter Plavchan, a professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University, brings that night’s sky right into participants’ living rooms via remote control of the university observatory, weather permitting.

Learn about the Series

Additional Grand Tour of the Solar System Programs

General Information

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