Nasa was last night celebrating the arrival of its space probe into the orbit of dwarf planet Ceres.
But Kiwi stargazers will have to wait several weeks to see any fresh footage from the Dawn probe as the $473 million project will be shrouded in darkness until it reaches the sunlit side of Ceres.
The wait should be worth it, as "exhilarated" Nasa researchers are expecting Dawn to beam thousands of pictures back to its Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
If all goes to plan, amateur space junkies will be able to keep tabs on its progress using a regularly updated trajectory map and a journal featuring fresh pictures. And the results could be startling. Dawn is seeking to find out more about unusual bright spots on the dwarf planet's surface that it discovered before reaching Ceres' orbit.
Theories to account for the sightings include possible geological activity, reflected ice or metal, water vapour shot out by geysers and even alien activity.
Speaking after the probe's descent, mission chief engineer Marc Rayman said it went "exactly the way we expected. Dawn gently, elegantly slid into Ceres' gravitational embrace."
Limited pictures received to date showed "signs of possible ice or salt".
Rayman was confident even more incredible discoveries would follow.
"The real drama is exploring this alien, exotic world."
Dawn is on a staggering eight-year, 4.8 billion km voyage. It will spend more than a year at Ceres.
David Britten - astronomy educator from Auckland's Stardome Observatory - said it was an exciting time for stargazers.
"It's the first of the dwarf planets to be visited by a spacecraft, so that is a milestone," he said.
"Dwarf planets are part of the primordial material that the solar system was built from so if we can study these up close it will give us some clues about the formation of the solar system."