On average, dwarf planet Pluto is located 40 times further away from the sun than Earth. So if you imagine standing on its icy cold surface, it must be pretty dark, right?
While noon on Pluto is a fraction of the brightness of noon on Earth, Pluto noon is probably a little brighter than you'd think, and with the help of a cool online location calculator created by NASA, you can see for yourself just how bright it is on the tiny world.
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According to NASA, the sun will be around 1,000 times dimmer as seen from Pluto than from Earth - appearing like a very bright star, with a small disk, in the sky. But it will also be hundreds of times brighter than a full moon on a clear night, more than enough light for the human eye to adjust and read a book.
Pluto is known to have a very thin atmosphere, or an "exosphere," so viewing the distant sun on the horizon should be a pretty sight. Some sunlight will appear scattered in the thin atmospheric gases and, as imagined by the artist's impression above, you might be lucky to see the crescent of Pluto's largest moon Charon. How the surrounding landscape would look is currently a mystery, but if it's covered in ices, perhaps the weak sunlight will also glint or sparkle off the surface.
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Now, armed with a handy online app and a little imagination, you can experience what noon might look like on Pluto without leaving the comfort of your backyard.
NASA has created a website that can calculate the time of day, from your location on Earth, that will have equal brightness to what you would experience on the dwarf planet with the sun high above your head.
It probably comes as little surprise that, from my location near Los Angeles, Calif., Pluto noon occurs after sunset, but it's not all that late either. My "Pluto Time" will be at 8:12 p.m. PT, still twilight.
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When's your Pluto Time? Check out NASA's online calculator and take a photo (assuming you have clear skies, preferably of a well-known landmark) and post your pics online with the hashtag #PlutoTime. Sure, this is just a fun exercise to imagine Pluto's noon, but in a little under a month, Pluto's mysterious landscape will come into focus when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft zips past the dwarf planet and its system of moons.
Source: NASA h/t @coreyspowell