Behold: the night side of Pluto, captured by the New Horizons spacecraft as it flew past in July 2015. Backlighting is provided by Sol  – some 4.9 billion kilometres (4.5 light hours) in the distance.

The spacecraft was at a range of some 21,000 kilometers from Pluto, about 19 minutes after its closest approach. A denizen of the Kuiper Belt in dramatic silhouette, the image also reveals Pluto’s tenuous, surprisingly complex layers of hazy atmosphere. The crescent twilight landscape near the top of the frame includes southern areas of nitrogen ice plains now formally known as Sputnik Planitia and rugged mountains of water-ice in the Norgay Montes.

(Image: NASA, Johns Hopkins Univ./APL, Southwest Research Institute )

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