In Defense of Pluto


Image via NASA

In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) stripped Pluto of its title of the Solar System’s ninth planet. Pluto would henceforth be classified as a “dwarf planet” because it had not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit. In other words, the IAU punished the King of the Dead for being too lazy to pick up after himself.

Seriously, though. It’s old news. The astronomy community has moved on and the idea of the Solar System having only eight planets has slowly caught on. It doesn’t change the fact that Pluto is still out there and that it bears study. The New Horizons space probe is supposed to start snapping pictures any day now. We’ll get some stunning images. Perhaps we’ll be able to count his icy wrinkles and peer up his frost-rimed nose.

I’d written “In Defense of Pluto” after I learned that Pluto no longer measured up to Olympian standards (or the IAU’s, depending upon whom you ask). While I understood the wisdom of the overthrow, I still believed he deserved a proper defense.

by Kurt MacPhearson

You’ve called him rogue
a miser and a trickster
and though I agree he’s done
some reprehensible things
if anyone is a product of his environment
then surely this twisted old ragamuffin
can’t be blamed for snatching up a young woman
he spied picking flowers
then trapping her in his dark abode
with the offer of fruit

Decades now you’ve watched him
out there, bothering no one
while you debated his status
then finally exiled him
to the asteroid-filled fringe
without allowing for so much
as a mumbled plea
for a chance to reform

Is the boatman
now to play jailor
or just some astronomical oddity
left him for mute company?

As much as you’re ready
to remind us of the severity
of his crime
you should take into account
that Pluto’s proximation
is due to the lot he drew
when sharing the world
with his two mighty brothers
whose own crimes are innumerable
yet by sheer magnitude
and illumination
go paradoxically ignored
as you recite with tongue-in-cheek fondness
the mischief the ancients could conjure
while gazing with wonder
upon their gassy
moon-flecked eminence

Perhaps your disdain
for Pluto’s existence
comes from relative size
in a system shrinking
with our telescoping reach
or could it be
that if you look deep inside
your pitiless, scientific heart
there lies
an unspoken, irrational fear
for the King of the Dead
lurking in your perfect heavens

Originally appeared in Tales of the Tailsman 7.1


Dawn Captures the Bestest Images Ever of “Hipster Planet” Ceres

Lights in the Dark

Animation of Ceres made from images acquired by Dawn on Jan. 25, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)Animation of Ceres made from images acquired by Dawn on Jan. 25, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This is the second animation from Dawn this year showing Ceres rotating, and at 43 pixels across the images are officially the best ever obtained!

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is now on final approach to the 590-mile-wide dwarf planet Ceres, the largest world in the main asteroid belt and the biggest object in the inner Solar System that has yet to be explored closely. And, based on what one Dawn mission scientist has said, Ceres could very well be called the Solar System’s “hipster planet.”

“Ceres is a ‘planet’ that you’ve probably never heard of,” said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “We’re excited to learn all about it with Dawn and share our discoveries with the world.”

(Hmm… so does this mean Ceres has gone “mainstream?”)

Read the rest of this article on Universe Today here.

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New Horizons Begins to Take Pictures of Pluto

15-011a-NewHorizons-PlutoFlyby-ArtistConcept-14July2015-20150115The New Horizons space probe, launched in 2006, has now come close enough Pluto to start snapping pictures of the dwarf planet. According to Mike Buckley, of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, “with the spacecraft still approximately 130 million miles from Pluto, the pictures will be distant.”

From 130 million miles, Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, will appear as two bright dots in the blackness of space. It might not seem like much at first, but as the probe approaches for its six-month study, we will receive some truly spectacular images.

Blog Changes, Part 2

After some serious contemplation, I will be making changes to my blog over the next few weeks. The main focus will remain on speculative poetry; however, I will be including posts on astronomy and mythology. Both subjects are often an integral part of my poetry, so it only makes sense to include such posts.

Thanks to those who offered input. It made me feel better about making changes. I might loose a few followers, but I’m sure I’ll gain more.

(I’d change the title of my blog to “Ruminations of an Astronomy Major, With a Minor in Mythology” but that would be lying.)

Blog Changes

I’m contemplating expanding my blog to include posts on astronomy, mythology, and the melding of the two. These posts won’t always include speculative poetry, but I figure that readers can make their own connections.

Any comments?

Where Astronomy and Mythology Meet, Part 2

Jupiter and Europa

Jupiter and Europa

Yesterday I posted a scifaiku that reflects upon the relationship between planet Jupiter and Galilean moon, Europa. The following poem explores that relationship much further. It’s a combination of astronomy and mythology, an interplay about which I wrote in an earlier post. For this poem, I drew from “The Rape of Europa.”

Two paintings follow the poem, by Rembrandt and Titian respectively. I think that these paintings show that no matter how far from Earth the human race travels, our myths and legends will always be with us.

by Kurt MacPhearson

Vulcan forged your golden basket,
chased with figures depicting Io’s fate,
yet you still chose to befriend that bull
merely because its low contained more melody
than a lyre ever produced.
Oh, Europa, such creatures are never docile.
It’s contrary to their nature.
Then again, we weren’t there to stop you
when that bull bent its back.
You aren’t the first to be deceived
by Jupiter’s bright and swirling charms.
The honeymoon was awesome; the starry tour quite fun;
though isn’t it strange how quickly
the euphoria of new love can fade?
He promised children. He promised Crete.
But all he gave were icy rings to seal your fate.
Hadn’t made a single revolution before learning
you shared a resonant relationship
with Ganymede, and poor Io, who Jupiter
hides like a mistress opposite you.
And now, it seems there’s no escape,
especially since Jupiter rarely turns asideStarLine 34_4
his bloody eye.
It’s not fair, what he puts you through.
But you hide it so well.
Those tears, beneath an icy veneer,
when he rages with his belts.
Which is why we forgive your cryovolcanic tantrums
when the stress of his pull becomes too much.
Such a stance defines a true hero’s composition,
for even though he won’t relinquish
his jealous grip upon your heavenly body
we know he can never break
your iron core.

Originally appeared in Star*Line 34.4

The Abduction of Europa by Rembrandt

The Abduction of Europa by Rembrandt

The Rape of Europa by Titian

The Rape of Europa by Titian

Scifaiku #4


cracks in the crust
Jupiter grating upon
Europa’s last nerve

Scifaiku #3


Mars canals
the overturned sign reads:
under construction

Save HarsH ReaLiTy!!

As the title says…

Linda G. Hill

No one likes spam. In internet terms (as opposed to the stuff you find on the grocery store shelf) it’s the bane of our existence. Its sole purpose is to get our attention and once it does, it either begs us to buy something or gives us something we would never pay for – something like a virus.

Then there is the exception to the rule. In fact, there is only one exception that I’ve found in over a decade of browsing the web. It may have seemed like a “spam follow” at the start, but when I followed the cookie-crumb trail that led me back to its source, it ended up benefiting me beyond my wildest dreams: it was HarsH ReaLiTy.

Jason, also known as Opinionated Man, has a huge (over 50,000 blog, twitter, and Facebook combined) following on his blog, HarsH ReaLiTy. His passion for connecting with other…

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A New View of the Sun

These are some spectacular images!

The Nerd Nebula

I am one of those silly people who sometimes looks at the Sun. I know it’s bad; i don’t stare for long. It just has to do with my fixation of space. Here are some new beautiful images of our Sun taken from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

SDO Sun Images SDO Sun Images

The ultraviolet and x-ray images received by the SDO craft are helping scientists to understand the internal motion of the giant ball of burning gas:

X Ray of Sun X Ray of Sun

If you would like to see more stunning images of our star; including timelapse videos; then please follow this link.

✘ Hack It! ✘

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