Have you seen this wonderful photograph circling various social media in the last 24 hours? It’s a picture of dwarf planet Pluto transiting the face of the Sun, revealing a beautiful hazy blue atmosphere. The minimalist, dark frame has been a hit with scientists, observers and artists alike, not just for the implications this atmosphere may hold for the former planet, but for its eerie, perfect beauty.
At the Phogotraphy office we pondered on how easy it would be for us to take this image ourselves. What type of rig we’d need, how much forward planning and at what expense? Turns out, it’s pretty simple actually. So ever the givers we’ve decided, exclusively, to share this easy 10-step-how-to-guide on photographing the atmosphere of Pluto.
- Step 1, Cost: Obtain roughly $700,000,000 funding from your government.
- Step 2, Equipment: Build a spacecraft, implementing an imaging system comprising of seven different instruments. Namely, Alice, Ralph, REX, LORRI, SWAP, PEPSSI & VBSDC. At least one of these will be able to capture the glowing haze of a distant object only ever seen as a clump of pixels before.
- Step 3, Choosing your Location: Allow dozens of scientists with degrees & doctorates in astrophysics access to supercomputers with the ability to calculate pi to the 10 trillionth decimal place. They will determine a trajectory for your equipment to take. This step is important as you’ll need to be connected remotely to your camera to ‘get the shot.’
- Step 4, Leaving Earth’s atmosphere: This is especially difficult as you’d need a rocket with enough thrust to reach 40,000km/h to escape the pull of Earth’s gravity.
- Step 5, Wait: Approximately 10 years. 10, cold, dark years in Space. It’s not completely void of events though as you’ll need to pull a slingshot manoeuvre around Jupiter to reach speeds of 14km a second.
- Step 6, Practice: You’re only going to get one chance at this, so assemble a team of a hundred or so to perform several trial runs of your photo shoot.
- Step 7, Remote Shooting: We’ve all used remote shooting before, but in this instance at 7.5 billion km you’ll be slightly further away from your subject than normal. It’ll take 4 hours to ask the camera to simply take the shot.
- Step 8, Deep breaths: Here’s your time to shine. You’ve spent 10 years, almost a billion dollars and invested much of your life into this. Once you send a specific set of instructions to your spaceship & its instruments, there’s no going back.
- Step 9, Download: With speeds of 1kb/s it should take no longer than 16 months to recover all the data you took during your flyby. As long as your cameras were pointed in the right direction you should see the rear side of Pluto within 4 months of your shot.
- Step 10, Share: If you can’t share your fantastic photograph, what’s the point? Get that snap square cropped and posted on Instagram, stat. The likes will roll in!
Hope that information was helpful and will encourage you to take your own photos of the Plutonian atmosphere. Please Tweet us with your best efforts and we might feature them on this site.