Tag Archives: Halloween

Solar System ejection blues


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Ever since he was the whole universe when he was two, he has gotten progressively smaller and smaller.

He’s been planning to be the dejected, ex-planet Pluto since last Halloween, which gave me plenty of time to try to figure out how to make the costume, in spite of the fact that there’s not a lot of data out there about what Pluto truly looks like just yet.

We went for “dirty ice ball” and made the decision to anthropomorphize the former 9th planet much like this song did, even though, as a scientist, my son is actually quite at peace with Pluto being relegated to Kuiper Belt object. He tried to muster real righteous indignation for the camera, but felt a lot more comfortable with peevishness.

Motherhood has again taken me light years beyond anything I could have imagined. (I’m looking forward to the subatomic years.)

Happy Halloween & Viva Pluto!

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A Gigantic, Happy Halloween

Do you know where in the universe you might find this?
400 years ago, Galileo concluded that it was orbiting this:
And with that, humanity took a giant step toward the realization that Earth isn’t the center of the universe.

We’ve had a full week of being Jupiter. At parties. Out trick-or-treating. At school. At Perkins Observatory. Sometimes with Europa-esque cracked-ocean face paint, but mostly without. He even won honorable mention for his costume at our neighborhood party last weekend. We thought about festooning his cheeks with volcanoes à la Io, but with all of this Halloweening, Declan has mostly told me “I feel like being just Jupiter today.”

Although, in moments, Venus, Pluto and Neptune’s moon Triton have monopolized his attention, he has loved Jupiter for more than half of his four-year-old life.

Meanwhile, I’ve been a little stunned to discover how alien the biggest planet in our solar system is to most adults. We would have had a much easier time with instant recognition if he’d wanted to be Saturn or Earth. I thought the extra big great red spot would be a good clue, but even the people who squealed about what a great idea it was for a kid to be Jupiter didn’t know much about its features.

He did school more than one grown-up as he trick-or-treated (including me). He let them know that all of the other planets in the solar system could fit inside of his. He told me that when you entered his atmosphere, it would smell like rotten eggs, which I surely did not know.

Mostly, though, he just shrieked with joy, heralding each new piece of candy that he got (with the exception of the person who gave him after dinner mints). This was the view of him and his mouse partner in candy mooching that we had for 99 percent of beggar’s night on Thursday:

Last night, when we went to Perkins Observatory, he was well appreciated. and he got to stand up in front of the crowd to help illustrate Jupiter’s features before stealing a quick look at his giant self in the telescope. It was a perfect celebration of both Halloween and the International Year of Astronomy (which we didn’t get to observe with the rest of the world last weekend due to rainy weather.)

This could be our last space-themed Halloween costume. Last year he was the solar system. The year before that, he simply wanted to be “space” (Phase I and II.) When we chatted about it last night, one of the astronomers noted that he seems to be getting smaller each Halloween. At this rate, he’s could be Eros or Eris next year.

Declan has told me that he wants to be some scary stabby person next year, I think because he’s mostly mild-mannered and would like to try being scary on for size. We’ll see what interests and fears another year brings. But Jupiter will live in a chest full of dress-ups, alongside his NASA uniform, space helmet, Star Trek: TNG captain’s uniform, and the shimmery capes and fabrics that take him on daily journeys to places no preschooler has gone before.

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Our solar system

“What are you?” They kept asking.
“The sun and all the planets,” he said.
We painted all of the planets on styrofoam balls to hang from his arms, but he was happy enough with having all of the planets painted on his sleeves, along with asteroids and the Milky Way. There’s a black hole on his collar.

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