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Confessions Of A Blue Marble.

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Title card: ''Confessions Of A Blue Marble by Lanna Michaels'' over an image of the solar system
[Title Card: "Confessions Of A Blue Marble by Lanna Michaels" beneath a montage of the Solar System. Credit: NASA/JPL]



Hello, worlds. Please allow me to introduce myself

Here's my self-portrait, I made it myself:

Blue Marble Earth
[Blue Marble Earth. Credit: NASA]

Don't I look pretty? Of course I do, because I am always pretty. I'm the third rock from the sun, but unlike the rest of the lumps, I have some taste. And by taste I mean a modicum of fashion sense. Stop looking at Mars. Mars has nothing going on. Nothing. Mars is nothing but dust and dirt and BORING. There is no one more boring than Mars. Except for Neptune. And Uranus. And Mercury. And every rock floating around with delusions of grandeur but nothing to show for it.

I have taste. The rest of them just sullenly orbit, slaves to gravity, whereas I frolic through space, dancing on solar winds.

Aren't I pretty?

Earth from Apollo 11
[Earth from Apollo 11 Credit: NASA]




Now, as I said, Mars is the most boring planet out there, and I do read the comments, and no, I am not "deluded" or "bitter" or "jealous" or "geocentric" (EXCUSE ME WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, SELENE, CALLING ME GEOCENTRIC? IF ANYONE HERE IS GEOCENTRIC, IT IS DEFINITELY YOU, TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR ORBIT AND THEN QED. YOU'LL GET YOURS. THE NEXT POST, JUST YOU WAIT, WILL BE ALL ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU SUCK). Mars really is boring.

Here, let me prove it:

[Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS]

Look at that! Disgusting, isn't ze?

Here, let me refresh your memory of what true beauty looks like, compared to that disgrace:

Earth and Mars comparison composite image
[Earth (left) and Mars (right) comparison composite image Credit: NASA/JPL]

I rest my case.




The moon that sold the world (on blogging).

Selene, I told you, I always put up and I never shut up. So, everyone, I'm gonna air our dirty laundry in public.

And the dirty laundry is, Selene is nothing but a stalker.

Ze follows me around all the time, always tugging on my tides. It itches like you can't even imagine. Ugh. Ze never leaves me alone, it's like ze's never heard of privacy or me-time. It's such attachment syndrome, I swear. Since the day ze was formed, ze has refused to leave the orbit. I keep telling hir, it's all right, I won't miss you, go on, make your own way (HEY, JUPES, LISTEN UP, YOU COULD LEARN SOMETHING HERE), I know there's nothing left here for you but gravitational pull.

And Selene, to give hir credit, is leaving. Slowly leaving. Much too slowly. But eventually ze will fly away and find hir orbit and I won't miss hir.

(Okay, maybe I'll miss hir. Just a little. But don't tell hir that, ze'll be insufferable.)

Here, for those who've never met hir, is Selene. In a few million, if you see hir zooming by, say hello and tell hir I'm glad ze's gone and I'm so much better without hir.

Moon from Hubble
[Moon from Hubble. Credit: Lick Observatory]

Because I am.




Dear Venus,

How are you? I am fine. Sol is making me write this letter because of things I may have said at the family reunion. I am sorry that I said that sol-transitting was being a drama queen. What I meant to say was that sol-transitting was a cry for attention and you should be beyond that by this age. I admire you very much because you also have to deal with Boring Mars and Baby Mercury. The cool kids should stick together, and we can't do that if you're going to transit all the time. It's a needless distraction. I hope you understand.

Feel free to transit anyone else, I don't care. But when you get between me and Sol, that's when I get upset.

Path of the 2012 Transit of Venus
[Path of the 2012 Transit of Venus. Credit: NASA/SDO]

No hard feelings?


P.S. I'm also very sorry I called you thick. Sol's right, I just have atmosphere-envy. I do think you're very pretty. Not as pretty as me, but you're up there.



Family reunion pictures!

Terrestrial planets comparison composite image. From left: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
[Terrestrial planets comparison composite image. From left: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute.]

Family picture time! Well, the family that's currently willing to be seen with me. The quads and Pluto sent their apologies, seems the commute was a little too long to make it. The season, you know. What can you do?

Baby Merc's looking very cute, but trust me, ze practices that. I look gorgeous as ever, and, yeah, all right, I practice that. Mars, on the other hand, needs no practice being a runt. (You're welcome, Mars.) And I'm not speaking to Venus right now unless someone else vets it first; apparently Venus does not enjoy being flamed by anything other than hir climate, and so I'm in "time out".

Ugh, Sol. Really, time out? You'd think I was Merc's age. This is so humiliating. At least Venus is rising above it, because Venus has class. And some anger issues, but if I were so close to Sol, I'd be angry all the time, too.

And you know what? I'm glad the gassy giants were too full of themselves to be seen in a picture with me. They're always so superior, it's tiresome. Venus at least is a proper size, for all that Sol's enforcing a cool-down period. Ha ha ha, Venus cooling down, very funny Sol.

Oh, you meant me cooling down.

Well, that's not happening, either.



Hey, Runt!

Hey, Mars! Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrssssssssssssssss! MAAAAAAAARRRRRSSSSS! Are you even listening?

I bet you're not. I bet you're ignoring me. I bet you're having too much fun showing off for the rovers.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did I say showing off? I meant BORING THEM OUT OF THEIR MINDS. All I hear from them is whining. "Mars thinks I care about dunes!" "Mars is the mind-killer!" "Mars is so boring, why couldn't you have sent me to Merc instead? I bet Messenger doesn't have to put up with this." And then Curiosity asked Messenger, who started taunting them and now I'm hearing about this from everyone. Well, guess what? I have better things to do than deal with these squawks and squabbles! I'm a busy planet!

So mantle up, Mars.

You've always been incredibly rude and I've always let you get away with it. It's like you don't know you're supposed to send thank you notes and return hospitality. I keep sending you so many toys and all you do is break them or take them on the most boring touristy tour ever. Come on, Mars, let see your canals! Oh, right, I forgot. You don't have any, because you are just that boring.

And if you want me to stop calling you that, you'll stop leading my rovers on and start showing them the good stuff. Which I know you have.

I've seen you drawing pictures in the sand and playing around with ice. You even manage to have interesting dunes in some places.

Flowing Barchan Sand Dunes on Mars
[Flowing Barchan Sand Dunes on Mars. Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA]

Dry Ice Pits on Mars
[Dry Ice Pits on Mars. Credit: HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA]

So stop fucking around, Mars, or I'll tell Sol on you.

And I mean it this time.




Hey, Pluto! Remember how I made you something? I know, it's been a while since I reminded you and you have a lot going on right now, I know it's really busy out in the Kuiper Belt. I'm sure you're going to a lot of interesting parties and meeting a lot of interesting, and, uh, interestingly-shaped, people. Anyway, just thought I'd let you know that New Horizons is still on its way and I hope you like it! It went past Jupiter a while back, but I just heard from Jupes that ze never vouched for how awesome it is, so I thought I'd let you know that Jupiter's silence does not mean that you'll hate New Horizons! In fact, you should take Jupiter's affronted silence as an endorsement of New Horizons. If it's made Jupiter jealous that New Horizons wasn't staying permanently so they could get to know each other better, then think about how awesome it'll be when you see it!

And don't listen to Mars; it's not cosmic littering, IT'S MAIL.



Meet the icy twins of icy superiority

New Horizons is going to be crossing Neptune's orbit soon, so Neptune made me write this. Apparently I have to be "useful" and "informative" and "less whiney", like that ever won anyone any blogging awards.

So, blog readers (are any of you NOT related to me? Have any of you NOT met the twins? I didn't think so), meet Neptune and hir unavoidable and inept twin Uranus. We all forgive you if you can't tell them apart. We think they're interchangeable, too.

So, here they are.


Neptune in Natural Colors
[Neptune in Natural Colors. Credit: NASA/ESA and Erich Karkoschka, University of Arizona]


Uranus in Natural Colors
[Uranus in Natural Colors. Credit: NASA/ESA and Erich Karkoschka, University of Arizona]

As you can see, they really wear their boringness with pride. They're never going to make the cover of Cosmospolitan with that attitude. Not that I'm complaining. More space for the quads!

Anyway, as I was saying...

Neptune is cold and aloof. Ze thinks ze's better than everyone just because ze was mathematically proven. Like hiding from telescopes is so cool and interesting. Don't lie, Neps, you're not better, you're just anti-social. Warm out.

But at least Neptune's got some stuff going on to justify hir superiority. Hir twin is the most boring celestial body you could ever meet, and I've got Moony McBoringstein constantly pestering my tides.

I think the only difference between the twins is that Uranus got really drunk that one time and fell over and, because admitting to having done that would be shameful, ze decided to go around pretending that ze meant to do that. But ze didn't. Uranus is just a drunken klutz.

Okay, be positive, be positive...

Neps, at least, is a good parent, putting Triton to bed:

Crescent Neptune and Crescent Triton.
[Crescent Neptune and Crescent Triton. Credit: Voyager 2, NASA]

I do appreciate good parenting. It's so lacking among the sibs. coughsaturncoughjupitercough Being a good parent makes up for a lot. I'm not sure it makes up for being so boring it puts me to sleep, though.

Ugh, shut up. It's not that I think everyone but me is boring, okay? It's just that I am surrounded by boring everywhere I go. That's it, I'm taking a vacation to go visit the Galileans. They aren't boring.



I'm back!

Vacation pics time! It took a lot of nagging, but I finally got them to line up nicely and say plasma. Don't mind Io, ze was having a bad day.

Galilean moons (global, color) comparison composite image. From left: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
[Galilean moons (global, color) comparison composite image. From left: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Credit: NASA/JPL/DLR]

I was the best ex-step-planet ever and took them out for comets and ice. I think I've succeeded in buying their affection for another eon.

Of course, as soon as I left, Jupiter was back to intimidating poor Gany and Io and demanding obeisance. It's Saturn's influence, I swear. Jupes was never like this when we were together. But once some gassy giant comes around, suddenly Jupes throws out everything ze knows about good parenting and starts thinking that if you spare the rod, you'll spoil the satellite. Ugh. Stupid Saturn.

Jupiter Eyes Ganymede
[Jupiter eyes Ganymede. Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, Cassini Project, NASA]

Jupiter-Io montage.
[Jupiter-Io montage. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Goddard Space Flight Center]

Hey, have I really not mentioned how evil Saturn is? Saturn is as evil as Selene and Mars are boring COMBINED. Let me tell you all about it...



Evil Von Evilplanet AKA Saturn

Okay, so I got some preemptive comments and, no, I don't fear hate Saturn because ze's with Jupiter now. That would be resentment and I don't do such things. Jupes is a grown planet; Jupes is to blame for Jupes's decisions, not Saturn. I don't misplace blame. Saturn is terrible and evil without needing any help from my resentment and bitter-ex issues. Which I do not, for the record, have.

This is Saturn:

Saturn's Shadow
[Saturn's Shadow. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute]

As you can see, ze is clearly evil. I've never seen greater malevolence than when Saturn is plotting something, and ze is always plotting something.

Ze's plotting destruction, in case that wasn't clear. Not comet and ice parties. Destruction.

Saturn doesn't have rings, ze has a moat. It's the biggest, loudest, rudest No Trespassing sign I've ever seen. Jupes, Uranus, and Neptune have early warning systems in place, and I respect that, there's nothing wrong with bodyguards. But Saturn, as always, takes it much too far. There's rings and then there's RINGS. You can imagine which kind Saturn has.

What do you even need a security system like that for if you aren't up to no good? Jupiter calls this physiognomy, says I'm indulging in too much melodrama, but this isn't pseudoscience, it's logic. The facts of the matter are clear. Saturn would be evil even if ze didn't always look like ze were about to strike.

For the record, Saturn is always about to strike. Because evil is as evil does. You want proof, let's go talk to poor little Iapetus. See that ugly scar? That's from when they had to glue hir back together again. Won't anyone stop Saturn's evil plots and Frankenstein urges? Am I the only one upset by these?

[Iapetus. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute) ]

I mean, Saturn has the death star for a moon! What more proof do you want?

Mimas's Herschel Crater, aka the Death Star
[Mimas's Herschel Crater, aka the Death Star. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute]

I rest my case.

One day Saturn is going to eat Jupiter and then you can't say I didn't warn you. The kiddie gate will be all that protects us from Saturn going on to castrate Uranus and then swallowing up Neptune, too. It'll be a rampage and it could all be avoided if anyone would ever listen to me. But no one ever does, and so Saturn is going to gobble up everyone and good riddance to stupid planetary rubbish.

When Saturn adopts the Borg Cube, don't say I didn't warn you.



Oh, I'm sorry, did it look like I was done?

Because I wasn't done.

Not convinced yet? Here's more proof that Saturn's evil:

Crescent Saturn
[Crescent Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute]

Dark Saturn.
[Dark Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute]

Quieted Storm on Saturn
[Quieted Storm on Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute]

And as a bonus, here's hir caught in the act of bullying baby Titan:

Saturn and Titan.
[Saturn and Titan. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute]

I could go on all orbit.

Jupes, I'd tell you to mantle up, but you don't even have one. Ugh. Grow some pride. You can do better than Evil Von Evilplanet.



Worst. Parent. Ever.

Global image of Io in true color.
[Global image of Io in true color. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona]

While I'm at it...

Hey, Jupes. I know you're so busy being full of your own gas, but Io has jaundice. I can't believe this. C'mon, Jupes, show some responsibility here and take care of your kid.

Ugh. You disgust me so much.



Don't panic in large friendly letters, panic in small hostile letters!

Gany, I'm sorry. I am so sorry. But it was out of context and edited all out of imagination. I'm so sorry that you got caught in this again. I know I have no claim on custody, but I don't want it. I want you to leave home and find your own way.

For everyone else, you can go to Jupiter's journal, but here's the relevant quote, and it's quoted in full. Unlike some planets, I don't pick and choose and make things sound like one side of a conversation, like Gany's crying while I berate hir over hir life choices.

No, Gany. You can only make your choices so long as I agree with them. When I don't, I'll overrule you for your own good. You only have a right to privacy so long as you don't lie to me; as soon as you use that right to privacy, I have the right to ignore it. For your protection, of course.

Well, I'm sorry, but if you're going to have that attitude, no, you cannot go to space today.

What, of course I'm not trying to repress you and hurt you. I'm not only interested in you because you're pretty. Honestly, Gany. If I wanted a nice pair of cerulean orbs, I'd still be talking to the Ice Twins. Don't be stupid. What were you raised by, brown dwarfs? No, of course you weren't, you got stuck with Jupes instead, and I'm so sorry for that.

This is completely out of context and unbecoming. I'm ashamed of you, Jupiter. Completely ashamed. I've never been perfect, but I'm not, and have never been, that bad a planet to ever say anything like what you have misconstrued it, deliberately, to imply.

Only one part of this is true: I'm so sorry you're stuck with Jupiter, Gany. And Jupiter? Stop suffocating Gany with your possessive gravity. Let hir fly free.

And that's enough of this family drama for today.



The point is

What you have to understand about Sol is that ze's a terrible parent, but jupteir has decided

Yeah, look, sol's the only role model Jupiter has had, so Jupes is going to turn out to be a terible parent, too. It's inevitable. I tried to send Jupes self-help and parenting books, bacck when we wer I was still holding out hope of beig able to change hir into being the best ze culd be, but jupe just ignored them, saying what do they know about parenting moons, all yu have is a basturd twin. I said, moore than Sol does. But Jupes never listens. IT's why we broke up.

you just lose all respect for a plnet when you see hir makig the same mistakes hir sun did. Or at least Idid. Come on, Jupes, you're so much better than this. Core up and& commmmit to selfimprovement. It's too latte for the quads, but the babies wil thank you. Lett the teenagrs aloan and spendt time with the babies. You could be so much betterr!!1 i wish you would.



Goddamn hangovers

No, I have no further comment.



Okay, I have one further comment

What people don't get, is that it's hard. It's hard being away from the kids, especially when they're this age. I'm not far away by choice, you know. Blame Sol (and I do, extensively). So this is long distance ex-planeting, and that's just not easy, okay? It's really really hard. I don't recommend anyone do it, but I do it because I can't not. Because I love the moons so much. And so it hurts so much when I see Jupiter do bad, because, damn it, Jupiter will always hold a place in the deepest parts of my core, and because I care so much for the kids. A little competence goes a long way, but a little incompetence goes further. I don't want to have to sit back and watch while Jupes ruins the kids, or while Saturn eats them.

And I'm not perfect and I never said I was. I lie about my age all the time (oh, shut up, so do you, don't be like that and lie about lying), and I've something of an ozone problem and I've been known to break out in mountains. But I try and that has to count for something. I can hear you giggling, Selene, and believe me, I've said all of the same things to myself. It ain't easy is what I'm saying, okay. I don't expect the kids to have some sympathy -- in fact, I'd be horrified if they did. But I expect more from the sibs. I especially expect more from you, Jupiter.

Do better. You only get one chance at this. And don't you dare bring Ganymede back into this. This is between me and you and maybe Saturn. Leave everyone else out of it.



Right, that's enough of that

Back to the snark and tasteless jokes, ix-nay on rehashing the same old same old family drama. Roll with the changes, I've always said.

River valley on Titan.
[River valley on Titan. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI) ]

Hey, Titan! Yes, you! You're such a show-off. Ooh, look at me, I have liquid methane and rivers! Who cares? No one. Shut up, Titan. You're nothing but a primordial soup mix stuck on the back of the shelf that expired two billion years ago.

Oh, what's the point? My core's not in it.

It's all useless.



This is just to say

I have regretted
the emotions
that I wasted
on you

and that
should have been
for someone worthy

Forgive me
I was young
and thought you
weren't so cold



Remain bitter but carry on anyway

Mars rolled on by today to tell me to get over myself, stop moping, and look towards the bright side. Which hurts, Mars. I know you're a wasteland, but some of us get sunburnt. You're so inconsiderate.


Mars and Selene have been pestering me with suggestions, as if I need help being a total black hole about things. Which, for the record, I don't. (But I kind of do these days, thanks, guys. You're awesome and I don't tell you that enough, and I should. I really do appreciate you and I love you so much and I don't know what I'd do if you left me. Okay, when you leave me. Selene, you better keep writing even when you're off exploring on your own. You may be my good-for-nothing wastrel of a bastard twin, but I'm gonna miss every cubic centimeter of you once you're gone. You better keep in touch.)

Anyway anyway.

Selene wants to know why isn't there life on Mars, which is stupidly easy. Of course there is no life on Mars. Just look at hir. There was, but they got so bored by the unending dreariness that they caught the first solar wind to Venus. They're much happier there. And this is why Mars has no life that you could throw any of hir many, many, monotonous, monochromatic rocks at.

Mars wants to know what's up with Selene's surface. Yeah, well, Mars, I'd like to know, too. C'mon, Selene, clean up your impact record. No one wants to see your craters! I've told you a million times, grow some forests, have some pride!

Mars also wants to know My Thoughts On Black Holes. By which obviously ze means star corpses, because, ugh, talk about your pretentious names. I mean, "black holes"? Who do you think you are? Damn things are so goth they don't even let light out, and I bet they spend all their time lazing around listening to Muse (glaciers melting in the dead of night, ugh, I wish that song wasn't so catchy and would stop always getting stuck in my crust, I don't appreciate this), but as I was saying: black holes are just undead vampire stars who are out to drink your plasma. And no, you can't quote me on that. Do I look like I have a gravitational death wish?

Because I don't.




Merc thinks ze's adorable, the worst part is ze's wrong

Merc's mail got a little lost in transit, sorry. Blame Venus. It's always hir fault when things happen in transit. YES STILL BITTER THX.

Merc wants to know what I think about hir new 'do. Apparently ze's been showing off for Messenger all this time, but I've apparently been too geocentric to notice (c'mon, that's not fair, I'm so much better than I used to be, I even acknowledge that Sol has gravitational bosses ze has to obey. See, it's not all about me!), and so Merc is jumping up and down in hir orbit, trying to get attention, and apparently, by attention, ze means ze really wants to know what I think.

Or Mars and Selene put hir up to it.

I think Mars and Selene put hir up to it.

(We call this cheering me up? ...All right, I guess, okay, fine. Let's call this cheering me up.)

[Mercury. Credit: MESSENGER, NASA, JHU APL, CIW]

Okay, Merc, here's what I think.

How are you so pock-marked? I mean, really. How old are you? And you still haven't figured out how to deal with acne? Hello, it's called cover-up! Honestly, you and Selene. The both of you, what's it going to take for you to have some self-respect and get some foliage and liquid water? Ganymede's just a teenager, ze's supposed to look like that, and yet ze still manages to always be gorgeous, while you're just a mess. Seriously, Merc, go bother Jupiter until ze lets you become a moon, and then let the Galileans take you on a shopping trip. They've got style, and you need to get a clue, stat.

I miss them so much

C'mon, Merc, let's face it, you're not a planet, you're still just a baby rock. Don't even try to play with the big kids. Just get over it and go become somebody's moon. I'm all full right now, but there's always someone looking for more mindless followers. Try Mars.

Mars is incredibly mindless already, you'll fit right in.




Taking a meteor shower always makes me feel better. There's something so intoxicating about contact, I've always felt. Used to be, Sol would pepper me all the time with long letters, but now it's just little meteorite tweets. Us kids skype -- me and Mars do it practically weekly -- but you somehow expect more from the parent. Don't I deserve long letters? Aren't I good enough? I keep seeing some shoot by, meant for some other lucky planet. Some day I'll get another one. Sol keeps promising.

Oh, Sol. Sol, I'm sorry, but you're the prime example of what not to do as a parent. No, don't look at me like that.

False-color Sun.
[False-color Sun. Credit: NASA / Goddard / SDO AIA Team]

And stop telling me to turn off the flash. It's not like it can hurt you, ugh.

Sol doesn't really understand my photography habit. Ze keeps forwarding on complaints from the neighbors about me and my long-range cameras. Something stupid about paparazzi, I've never paid attention. Honestly, Sol, just give up. I've gotten Selene and Mars in on the habit, too, and you can have my adorable little Hubble when you pry it from my cold, dead core. Okay, no, you can have Hubble in a couple years because I'm upgrading. That's what planets do, Sol, we upgrade. We change. Not like you'd know anything about that, you don't understand me! You never have! You've never wanted to! Are you really still angry about Ulysses peering into your windows? I already said sorry about that!

It's not merely my hobby, it's my passion. Not like you'd know anything about passion, either. You're so damn hot, Sol. Cool down, take a breather, learn how to love again.

(And you still can't have Hubble, I've decided. What? Retro's cool, too!)



A poem

NGC 7049
[NGC 7049. Credit: NASA, ESA and W. Harris (McMaster University, Ontario, Canada)]

Star light
Star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Finally beat Selene in an insult fight

(One day. Not today, but one day.)



That's No Moon, That's A Potato

Exhibit A: Helene:

[Helene. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute]

Exhibit B: Phoebe

[Phoebe. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute]

Exhibits C & D Until Infinity: Epimetheus and Janus, those do-si-do'ing twits:

[Epimetheus. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute]

[Janus. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute]

But on the subject of moons (not mine): Don't even get me started on this again. I can't believe the sheer audacity of calling yourself a moon and being shaped like this. The shame list is too long to go through above (yes, I heard all of you about picshaming Saturn, ugh, go away, I heard you the first thousand times), but, yes, I'm looking at you too, Calypso, and at you too, Prometheus, and at you too, far too many to go through. You're not moons, you're asteroids who couldn't ask for directions.

If you're not rounded, you're just pretentious. You think you're better, but guess what? Everyone knows you're not. Go sit in the baby belt and stop usurping someone else's place. Pretending you're a moon just makes you look stupid.

Look, I'm an open-mantled planet. I've been around this block a few billion times. My future new best friend forever and ever is trans-Neptunian. But if you're non-rounded, don't even talk to me. There's open-mantled and then there's breaking apart due to a lack of sensible, common-sense standards. If you're not a sensible shape -- and the only sensible shape to be is round, shut up -- you're not a moon, you're just lost.

Phobos and Deimos, you at least have an excuse for your sorry states. Mars is just a mess, it's not your fault, you're doing the best you can, and even that's not enough. I'm so sorry, Phobos, but you're going to crash into Mars pretty soon. I hate to be the one to break this terrible news to you. Do you want some chocolate? It might help. Selene's been slowly leaving me and it couldn't happen soon enough. I'll send hir over. Maybe ze can teach Mars how to be a decent parent. It's a disgrace.

But Saturn? I judge you. I judge you so much. Not that this is a surprise.

And Jupes, come on, you don't need that many sheep. Shove the babies back into the belt. They need a few more eons to cook, and they'll be happier there. It's just being mean to the others to be so indiscriminate. It's like you'll snag anyone who comes within your gravitational pull. It's not fair to the children you already have, and you know how much I love my Galilean ex-step-moons. I miss you four so much, come visit soon, I'll take you around to visit colleges. And Io, I'm glad to see you're doing better.


Am I the only one around here who has standards?! No, of course I'm not. Merc and Venus have even higher standards than I do, what with them refusing to allow anyone to tag along with them. Good for them, I'll say. And for all that Selene is my idiot twin, at least Selene has the sense to be rounded. Unlike some I could mention. (And I have, see above.)

Let's be sensible. You're good enough to be a moon if you have enough self-respect to become rounded, and you're a planet once you stop piggy-backing on someone else's orbit. No one likes having someone follow them around all the time. It's creepy. Get your own relationship to Sol and stop getting in someone else's way. (No offense, quads, you're still my favorites.) And if you're not rounded, you're just pathetic and gravitationally confused.

And learn from the best while you're growing up, okay? Take Miranda, for example:

[Miranda. Credit: NASA/JPL]

Miranda has style. If you're just going to be a hunk of rock and ice, be like Miranda. Ze can pull it off. Miranda's going to grow up to be Ganymede, and then they'll take over the system by sheer virtue of out-glaming everyone. Yes, even me. I'm secure enough to concede that Ganymede is prettier than me. Not Miranda. Miranda still has ways to go.

But the rest of you need to shape up. Literally.



Still A Potato, Part 2

[Hyperion. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute]

Show of cores! Is this is a picture of Saturn's baby Hyperion or is it just your average sponge?

Ha, I knew you couldn't tell.



But On The Subject Of Standards...

Sol insisted that you have to be a loner to be a real planet, but that's diminishing. Pluto and Charon are BFFs, but that's no reason to discriminate. Could Pluto do better? Of course. But I was all ready to invite Xena Eris for a cup of tea when Sol said we're not allowed to let them sit at the grown-ups table. Well, I don't care. I'd already sent Pluto some mail when Sol decided to be autocratic, and it's too late now for hir interference. When Pluto opens New Horizons, then we can skype! We'll become even better friends! I can't wait! Jupes did finally promise Pluto that ze'll love the card. I'm very pleased by the compliment, because I spent so much time and effort on it. This is the first time Pluto's going to see something I made! Maybe ze'll put it on the refrigerator. Oh, I hope so.

And I know Saturn is loving the opportunities Cassini is providing for us to get to know each other better. Why, before I just thought ze was superior, cold, evil, and unfeeling. Now I know ze's superior, cold, evil, unfeeling, and prettier than Jupes is. Everybody wins! (Even Jupes, who must really enjoy being in relationships with planets prettier than ze is.)

Maybe Sol's just jealous and wants me to send hir some mail, too. I guess I could send along Messenger once Merc is tired of showing off rock, rock, and more rock. Seriously, Merc, how many times do I have to repeat myself repeat myself repeat myself before you acknowledge that I'm right and you're wrong? Believe me, I know fashion. I am effortlessly stylish. I am a glorious mix of colors, not a fashion flake plate like Jupiter or Saturn. I've been on the cover of Cosmospolitan over twenty times. So why don't you listen to me? Put some new clothes on! Go out and buy some skinny jeans! Get out of the orbit! You're too young to have no geological activity. Get out, meet new people, drink some lava. I know Venus would love to take you out for a spin.

What's that? You're right. Venus goes a bit too far with the volcanoes. You two should get together and find a happy middle that leaves you both happy and neither of you scarred for life.

But back to the main point. I know everyone says Pluto is happier now, and certainly Pluto doesn't seem to be care about being demoted. But you know Pluto. Ze's always looking at the bright side, always being cheerful even when there's no point. Ze's so stubborn that way. It's like ze doesn't even know Sol's shoved a solar flare up hir core. Metaphorically speaking.

I don't care that Sol is shunning. A dwarf planet is still a planet, no matter how small. Pluto's adorable. Sol just can't see it because ze's too far away. Sometimes, I think Sol even forgets Pluto exists! Sol, I'm ashamed of you. I know you're ancient, but you need to do better.

And Pluto will always be much more interesting than the twins of icy boringness. Pluto and Charon can share my orbit anytime. Stupid Sol. I have so few friends! Why do you want to take some away from me? Do you want me to end up like Gollum? Because I'm going to end up like Gollum!



A slight relenting on the subject of standards

Selene yanked on my tides and told me to take a rotation to calm down, and so now I'm calm and no longer casting aspersions. If you want a fancy name, fine, I'll let you be an orbiter instead of an asteroid. So you're still better than the babies, but it's only because you've tied yourselves to a real planet.

But I still think you'd be better off in the baby belt. Just my opinion.



Okay, Fine. Standards Part 5

Okay! Okay! I've been told I've been a little harsh to Sol. Specifically, I got a solar flare up my magnetosphere. Whatever.

A Solar Filament Erupts
[A Solar Filament Erupts. Credit: NASA's GSFC, SDO AIA Team]

So, fine. I'm sorry, Sol. You have every right to have standards. It's hypocritical of me to complain about non-rounded satellites pretentiously calling themselves moons and then say someone gets to be a real planet without the gravitas to pull it off. It was wrong of me and I apologize.

(But I still love you, Pluto. Write back once you get my letter!)



And now for something completely different

Because I am nice, and unlike Venus, don't actually enjoy getting flamed all the time, here's Neptune looking downright gorgeous today.

[Neptune. Credit: NASA/JPL]

See, Sol, I can too be nice to the twins!



They grow up so fast

The quads sent me their yearbook pictures. They're such good kids. I'm so proud of them. Aren't they so adorable in their school uniforms? I'm sorry, I mean, so grown-up?

Galilean moons (gibbous, black and white) comparison composite image. From left: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
[Galilean moons (gibbous, black and white) comparison composite image. From left: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute]

They also sent this along, apparently to make me feel sorry for Jupiter and want to kiss hir boo-boo better. I'm beginning to suspect the quads really hate Saturn. They're such good judges of character.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Impact Sites on Jupiter
[Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Impact Sites on Jupiter. Credit: H. Hammel, MIT and NASA]

But, guys, I'm sorry. Jupiter is a grown planet and can handle hirself without me putting band-aids on hir bruises, or ze can have Saturn help. I respect Jupiter's choices. I know we haven't made it easy for you. I've promised myself I'm going to stop putting you in the middle without realizing it, and this counts as that. I'm not getting between Jupiter and Saturn, and I'm not going to undermine your relationship with Jupiter.

And, yes, Selene's taking bets on how long that'll last, so if you think that little of me, ze's that-a-way. Opening bid is six comets.



You better *pray* for one last landing on the globe that gave you birth


Curiosity Self-Portrait
[Curiosity Self-Portrait. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems]

Don't give me that 'who me?' look. Yes, you!

Curiosity, Mars has been telling me some very disturbing stories about what you're getting up to over there. Don't make me institute a curfew.

Still thinking about acting out? Just ask Magellan about what I do to robots who are rude to their hosts.

Yeah, I thought so.



Happy new year

You know, Selene, Charon writes sappy love songs to Pluto, and all you can manage is to play havoc with my tides. I feel very dissatisfied by this status quo.

I'm reminded of the time I was so excited to get a letter from you. Yes, it was all covered in rock and I had to go and pick it up myself, but I was so excited. And then I opened it up and it was one of those singing cards. And it started singing ground control to major tom.

This. Meant. War.

But here's another year gone, another orbit seen through.

So, how about it, Selene. Let's have another go. Just you and me and the star light.

Let's shine on, you crazy diamond.

Earthrise from the Moon.
[Earthrise from the Moon. Credit: NASA]