That’s No Moon! (A Geeklet Story)

SCENETypical school day breakfast. I am kneeling down and reaching into a lower cabinet, where we keep the appliance type things, so breakfast smoothies can be made.

Older Geeklet: I remember what I wanted to tell you. Did you know that all the moons of Uranus are named after Shakespeare characters?

Me: No, they’re not.

Older Geeklet: …

Me: …a couple are named for a different play.   (* Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock, though I mistakenly thought they were from an Edmund Spencer work at the time).

Geeklet: Well, yeah, true, I knew that.

Me: Anyway.

Geeklet: Anyway.  So they came up in astronomy class, and I was so excited, because I had this great piece of trivia, and I was waiting for it to come up so I could answer! … and it didn’t.  He just said Uranus has a lot of moons and there’s nothing special about them.

Me: Well, that stinks. It’s also not true. Did he mention that two of the moons are going to collide? Go back and tell him you learned that on your dad’s Shakespeare blog!

Researching this post got me looking at the evolution of my knowledge on this subject.  After all, “Uranus” isn’t a word that comes up often in other contexts, so it’s easy to search.

April 2006 – I learn about Uranus’ moons. Amusingly I avoid mentioning “Umbriel” at all here. I expect that at the time I was very new and thinking, “I don’t recognize that character, so I just won’t draw attention to that one.”  Meanwhile “Belinda” is buried in the middle, there, and I always miss that one.  “Umbriel” is close enough to “Ariel” that you want to think they go together because they do. The Ariel referenced here is from Pope’s work, along with Umbriel. This is not Shakespeare’s Ariel.

March 2008 – I learn more about why the moons are named like they are, chronologically. I also learn about the Umbriel/Ariel connection, and take note of Belinda there in the middle (the newest discovery, so technically she’s at the very end of the list).

September 2017 – Soon (astronomically speaking) there will be fewer moons. In about a million years, astronomers think that Cressida and Desdemona are going to crash into each other. I wish it had been two characters from the same play, then we could have worked that backwards into the storyline. But Cressida, of all possibilities?  Boring.

January 2019 – My daughter comes home disappointed that she is not given the opportunity to share this information with her astronomy class.




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