Monday, December 31, 2018
Monday, December 24, 2018
Saturday, December 22, 2018
Winter Solstice—that magical time when darkness gives way to light, and the Sun is symbolically reborn—is here once more. For Plutophiles, it caps a year of major victories in the fight for Pluto’s planet status while also heralding the flyby of New Horizons’ second target, Ultima Thule, now just days away.
This particular Solstice season is an unusually “spacey” one. It marks the 50th anniversary of the triumphant launch of Apollo 8 and its orbit around the Moon, setting the stage for the Apollo 11 landing just seven months later.
It was Apollo 8 that gave us the iconic “Earthrise” photo, showing the blue and white sphere of our planet rising as seen from lunar orbit. More than anything else, that picture is a constant and powerful reminder that we are all one, that borders are artificial, that we share a common destiny. Since then, astronauts who have seen this view for themselves from the Moon, space shuttle and International Space Station have advocated giving everyone, especially world leaders, a chance to see it, understanding that seeing the world as one beautiful planet would forever alter their perspectives in a way that would benefit the world.
Like the Apollo missions, New Horizons and its flybys of Pluto and Ultima Thule remind us that humanity can do great things if we genuinely commit to doing them. The type of vision and persistence that made these missions so successful are badly needed today to unite this planet in the fight against climate change and the many social and political ills still facing so many people, the very things that are holding us back from fully becoming a space-faring species.
Too often, this time of year, which should unite us in recognition that we are all one planet and share a common destiny, instead divides us. In the US, people argue about whose holiday should receive the most recognition, who is a minority versus a majority, etc. This is genuinely sad because like eclipses, comet appearances, and meteor showers, solstices and equinoxes are phenomena everyone experiences. They remind us that all humans and all life share a common destiny. There is nothing wrong with celebrating cultural differences, but too often, these differences are emphasized to the point of obscuring that shared destiny. It is a case of seeing all the trees but failing to recognize they make up the single ecological system that is a forest.
If we can come together to put people on the Moon and control a probe four billion miles away, we can also come together to save this planet and begin a new era of exploration that will take us to the stars. That vision is still possible. Keep hope alive!
“Eyes to the blind!
Legs to the lame!
Luck to the poor!
Planetood for Pluto and all dwarf planets!
A Merry Solstice to everyone!”~an old Solstice greeting, as amended by Plutogirl