Love you, Adler Planetarium, but you jumped the gun on the Pluto mission just like everyone else

Love you, Adler Planetarium, but you jumped the gun on the Pluto mission just like everyone else

No one loves my neighborhood jewel, Adler Planetarium more than I do. Not to mention news of outer space of any kind.  But last week the space community–including Adler–kind of had a unique clickbait situation, which left me confused and a little irritated.

As in, where was the real close-up of Pluto?  The color shot we’ve all been waiting for?  I bet you clicked a lot trying to find it, right?

Face it, readers.  You thought you’d wake up on Tuesday morning with a bunch of pix put out by NASA of fly-by closeups of Pluto, right?  Lots of color pictures from every angle?

Didn’t happen.

Adler sure pumped up that notion, stirring up those of us who fall for clickbait like a fish for a worm.  They were selling tickets (which sold out quickly) for a big bash early Tuesday morning for the big reveal.  At least as a member and good friend of Adler, that’s what I thought it was going to be. I didn’t get a ticket because I was too late.  But I wasn’t all that disappointed; I figured I’d put on the TV, and all the stations would carry the fly-by live–like the first moon walk, or at least the Charles-Diana wedding.


Pluto got a few one-sentence mentions on the TV last Tuesday.  But not the be all, end all picture of THE CLOSEST CLOSE UP we’d been waiting almost 10 years for.  For that, it turns out, we have to wait months.  Actually, we might have to wait a year and a half.  Seems it takes an awful lot of time for the data to come back and download.

Which makes sense.  But no one from Adler made that clear at the outset. And I’m just a plain old science consumer.  I know not the timing constraints of sending data from our outer outer outer solar system.

The Pluto mission had a special place in my heart.  Because my mother is from Streator, Illinois–Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh‘s hometown, as well.  My mother was very good friends with Clyde’s cousin Boyd Tombaugh.  So Clyde and his story have always been a family story for us. When Pluto was downgraded from planet to dwarf planet, it stung our whole family.  My mother cried.  We watched with great pride and sentimentality as Clyde’s ashes blasted off to Pluto almost 10 years ago.

So this whole anti-climax has tamped down my initial enthusiasm, deflated my spirit.  As I wait.  And wait.  And wait for the real McCoy.

Who knew?

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