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Guided By Starlight, New Horizons Speeds Toward Pluto
“Second star to the right, and straight on ‘til morning,” Peter Pan told Wendy as they sailed toward Neverland. Though the story is a fairytale, navigating by starlight is a tried-and-true method for crossing oceans on Earth as well as the vast cosmic sea.
Like Peter Pan and millennia of humans, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is flying by the light of the stars. As it sails toward its July 14 rendezvous with Pluto, the spacecraft is keeping a close eye on thousands of pinpricks of light. Not only do the stars help tell the spacecraft exactly where it needs to go, they tell the spacecraft where to point its instruments as it meets up with Pluto.
“The stars are always the