From the January 2012 issue

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Whether on the ground or in the air, NASA’s flying observatory is a wonder to behold.
By and | Published: January 23, 2012 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The 2.5-meter primary mirror of SOFIA’s telescope appears here during construction, before its surface received its reflective coating. The honeycomb structure within lowers the object’s weight, and the blue and yellow tints are the result of a protective tarp and background lighting.
Ron Strong (ARC/NASA)
In his March story, “Flying in Pluto’s shadow,” Richard Tresch Fienberg wrote about an expedition aboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) to search out and observe the center of Pluto’s shadow on Earth as it blocked the light from a distant star. Fienberg was the first American journalist to fly aboard the refitted Boeing 747 when he accompanied the scientists on this trip, and he took more pictures than we could use. Here are some of those, along with a few other images showing off SOFIA.