Our solar system has five known dwarf planets. Until recently, we have not sent a spacecraft to any of them. On April 27, the Dawn spacecraft began orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres and started doing scientific research. Based on the definition of planet by the International Astronomical Union, Ceres, which was Asteroid No. 1, is now a dwarf planet.
This picture, taken by NASA with the camera on the Dawn spacecraft, shows two bright spots that have been seen on Ceres. Scientists do not know yet what causes them. For more information about the dawn mission, go to their website: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/
At this time, Ceres rises around 2 a.m. In a few months it will be on our object lineup at the observatory. Come join us at the next Public Night at Insperity Observatory (humbleisd.net/observatory). Public Night is the first Friday, monthly. Come early to check out our newly completed analemma.