Category Archives: Solar System

The Juno Mission, Unlocking the Secrets of Jupiter

Happy 4th of July 2016! On top of it being the United States’s birthday, the NASA spacecraft Juno will reach orbit around Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.  This is a very perilous journey for Juno, which was launched from Earth on 5 August 2011.

Juno_approaching_Jupiter                                                     Artist’s conception of Juno approaching Jupiter (

Jupiter spins so fast that its gravity creates a slingshot effect, where anything getting near this gas giant flies away as projectiles. This includes rocks, comets electrons and dust; anything that gets near Jupiter becomes its defensive weapon. If a particle as small as a grain of sand hits Juno that right way, it could mean the end of the mission.

Another danger is the amount of radiation Jupiter generates. The amount of radiation we experience on Earth is about 0.39 of a RAD. Juno will experience over the course of its mission about 2,000,000 RAD (! The term RAD stands for radiation absorbed dose and is essentially a way of measuring the absorption of radiation by a specific material (which can include but not be limited to biological tissues).

PIA14172                One of the three solar panel sails used to power Juno through the solar system (

Juno will be the closest we have ever been to Jupiter; within 3,000 miles of the cloudtops of this gas giant, well within the radiation belt (this specific task within the mission is called the Jupiter Orbit Insertion). The goal is to get into the belt, collect the data needed and get out as quickly as possible. The data to be collected, underneath the cloudtops, should provide information on what our early solar system was like, particularly from a chemical point of view.

Jupiter_cloudtops  One of the four Galilean moons, Io, over the cloudtops of Jupiter.

Hopefully the insect philosophers on the fourth moon of Jupiter will leave Juno alone to collect its data. Next time we will wrap up our discussion on Lovecraft’s “The Lurking Fear.” Thank you – Fred.

Insectphil                                                                                   Will the Insect Philosophers leave the spacecraft Juno alone? Artwork by Michael Bukowski ( 


Journal of Lovecraftian Science, Volume 2 – the Lovecraftian Solar System

Hello everyone – just wanted to let you know that Steve Maschuck and I launched another Kickstarter – this one is for the Journal of Lovecraftian Science, Volume 2 and focuses exclusively on the Lovecraftian Solar System. If you are interested please check it out at…/journal-of-lovecraftian-scien…

Thank you. Fred


Lovecraft and Planet Nine, Part 1

I would like to discuss the recent data that has been presented earlier this week to support the hypothesis that there may be a ninth planet beyond Neptune. Additionally, I will also discuss H.P. Lovecraft’s pre-Pluto comments about the existence of a ninth planet and how such a world may be an important component of the Lovecraftian Solar System. Thus, this article is the first of a two part discussion on this subject.

For the sake of augment I am adhering to a resolution passed in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union in stating that Yuggoth (known to many as Pluto) is classified as a dwarf planet. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, that is the official description of Yuggoth so if another, larger body is found beyond Neptune, it would officially be the 9th planet of our Solar System. Many people are upset with the idea that Pluto has been demoted from being a planet and I have heard others complain that scientists are always trying to confuse us or can’t make their minds up; well, I thought I would talk a little about how science works before we discuss the evidence for a ninth planet in our solar system.

TNOs00-xenosystems.netShowing the relative size of some of the largest trans-Neptunian bodies relative to Earth. Note the size of Pluto and its largest moon Charon relative to the other objects (

I always like to say science is not math.  Math is sometimes called a universal truth; one plus one will always equal two (at least in our known universe). Thus, most forms of mathematics are deductive reasoning; a set of rules are established and dictates what the answers will be. As long as the established rules (called axioms) are established as true, you can be absolutely sure of the conclusions. For example, Pythagoras’s theorem states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite of the right angle of a triangle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides of a triangle. Thus, it is a well-established fact that if you have a right triangle and run through these calculations you will get the expected answer beyond a shadow of a doubt.

6103542_orig                                                    The mathematical truth of the Pythagorean theorem.

In contrast, much of science is inductive reasoning; that is, broad generations are made from specific observations. Observations are made and a hypothesis is constructed that is then tested either through additional observations and the establishment of predictive model and/or through experimentation. If enough data and conclusions are developed that supports the hypothesis, then it can eventually become a theory. While theories are not absolute truth as can be established in mathematics, they always come closer to the truth with the accumulation of more data. Thus, the theories of gravity, the atom and evolution are theories because they all have an incredible amount of observable and experimental evidence for their support. No alternative theories have come close to describing / predicting conditions in our world and reality as these theories do.

So in the case of the 9th planet, some evidence has recently been presented for its existence.  Again, I hear a lot of people say “I’ll believe it when I can see it.” However, I would remind everyone that Neptune was actually first discovered through mathematical calculations conducted by John Couch Adams before it was ever observed in the night sky. As noted in Mark Littmann’s book, Planets Beyond: Discovering the Outer Solar System (1990), Neptune is the planet found on a sheet of paper. Using only mathematics, Adams predicted the existence and position of Neptune in order to explain discrepancies in the orbit of Uranus. The same conclusions were reached through mathematics by Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier around the same time. The confirmation of the existence of Neptune was made by the astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle. These efforts, to discover the existence of a large planet through mathematics is a testament to the power of the Laws of Newton and Kepler.  In this case discrepancies in the mathematics of how planetary bodies obey the Laws of Newton were used to form a hypothesis, which was then confirmed through observations. A similar approach is being used to seek out and confirm the existence of the 9th Planet (here called Planet Nine).

yuggoth_watchtower_by_caberwood-d6tm8se Yuggoth Watchtower by Chaberwood (

Essentially, some unusual observations have been made of objects in the Kuiper Belt, a zone of the solar system that is approximately 150 astronomical units (a.u.) from the Sun but never gets closer than 50 a.u. As a point of reference, the distance between the Earth and the Sun is 1 a.u. Also, the Kuiper Belt is the outer edge of our solar system, beyond the orbit of Neptune, that contains a variety of bodies including comets and asteroids (see the earlier illustration of tran-Neptunian objects). Essentially, these bodies all have perihelia (the points of their orbits closest to the Sun) that cluster near the ecliptic plane. A more detailed analysis of six of these objects show them to have clustered perihelia as well as elliptical orbits oriented the same way, about 30 degrees below the ecliptic plan. If there was no Planet Nine then the gravitation influence of the other giant planets would have resulted in these smaller bodies drifting away from each other. It has been calculated that there is only a 0.007% change that the existing arrangement of these trans-Neptunian objects is the result of chance (Kelly Beatty, Making the Case for “Planet Nine” in Something must be keeping these bodies corralled and in-line with the observed orbits and this is the case for Planet Nine.

Planet-Nine-orbit-plotsOrbits from six trans-Neptunian objective in our solar system. These observed orbits provide evidence for the existence of Planet Nine (from Caltech / Robert Hurt).

Based on the most recent calculations the proposed planet needed to keep these trans-Neptunian bodies in line, must be at least 10 times of Earth’s mass and have an orbit around the Sun of between 10,000 to 20,000 years. So now the search is on to find this unknown world.

In Part 2 we will review Lovecraft’s thoughts on a ninth planet before Pluto was discovered and discuss Planet Nine’s role in the Lovecraftian Solar System. Thank you – Fred.

Notes from Yuggoth, Part 9

Shown below is some of the highest resolution photos ever taken of the surface of Yuggoth (to some the dwarf planet Pluto). Features less than half the size of a city block can be observed ( Craters, mountains and a glacial plain can all be observed. No basalt towers have been identified to date but data is still streaming in from New Horizons…the Mi-Go have yet to be revealed to humanity!


The complex terrain of Yuggoth from New Horizons (


Enceladus, a Moon of Saturn with a Possible Sub-Surface Ocean

With all of the talk lately about finding water on Mars and the New Horizons photographs of Pluto and its moons, NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn has taken a backseat. However, today (the 28th of October 2015) the Cassini spacecraft will fly just 30 miles (50 kilometers) above Enceladus, the sixth largest moon of Saturn.  Currently Saturn is known to have 62 moons (53 of them have been named; but back in Lovecraft’s day the planet was thought to have only ten moons.


Fractured geysers at the southern pole of Enceladus (NASA)

The goal of the Cassini mission is to fly through and sample one of the plumes that erupts from the moon’s southern polar region (NASA). As far as we know there is a sub-surface ocean underneath the icy crust of Enceladus.  This will be the first time in history that samples will be collected from an ocean NOT on Earth.  It will be interesting to find out what Cassini finds.

Notes from Yuggoth part 6 (mysterious dark blotches and lesser satellites)


Mi-Go by the King Ov Rats (

It is going to take NASA weeks to months to receive all of the data from New Horizons and to process, analyze and interpret the received information. Thus, I will periodically post notes from Yuggoth over the next few months. However, for now this will be my last post from Yuggoth.

Some strange dark blotches and patterns, stretching hundreds of miles across, have been found on across the equator of Pluto. Curt Niebur, a program scientist for NASA, has said regarding this patterns, “It’s weird that they’re spaced so regularly.”  These patterns are on the side of Pluto always facing it’s largest moon Charon, which is tidally connected with the planet, similar to how the same face of our moon is always facing the  Earth. What are these patterns, hundreds of miles across? Are they vast farms of an alien lichen or bacteria that chemotrophically feed off the minerals of Pluto?


Details of the terrain of Pluto (

In addition to the dark patterns, the most recent surveys of Pluto have identified mountains ranges and craters.  These mountains (shown below) are similar in size and scope to those of Appalachian Mountains; however, other mountains rages on Pluto were more similar to those of the Rocky Mountains.  Craters are also found among these mountains, filled with brighter material. These mountains and associated terrain are estimated to be billions of years old. Would a closer examination revealed large, basalt towers jutting out of the cliff faces of many of these mountains?


Mountain range of Pluto (

The mountains are in sharp contrast to the light colored, planar, heart-shaped region, called the Tombaugh Regio, which is relatively fresh topography created within the last 100 million years. The contrast between the old maintains and the young, flat, heart-shaped region indicates that there is some degree of recent geologic activity.


The heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio of Pluto (

In addition to the additional observation data on the terrain of Pluto, some new information has been collected on two of the smaller satellites of Pluto – Nix and Hydra. Nix is the smaller of the two and has a reddish bulls eye (possibly an impact crater), while Hydra is slightly larger and grey.


Nix and Hydra, two of the smaller moons of Pluto (

There are a total of five known moons of Pluto with the other three being  Charon, Kerberos and Styx. Each moon may have a distinct purpose or function for the Mi-Go; however at this point in time nothing is known what these functions could be. One hypothesis is that each moon is an established gateway or portal to another part of the universe or perhaps even beyond our space-time. However, as additional information is received and analyzed by NASA, additional details may reveal the habits and operations of the Mi-Go. The real question is, will NASA release such information to the public?

Next time, before we continue with more discussions on the Lovecraftian solar system, we will discuss a Mi-Go related, revisionist tale “Out of the Aeons,” co-written with Hazel Heald.  Thank you – Fred.


Will a closer examination of Yuggoth reveal Mi-Go cities among the moutains? Illustration by Roberts The Vile (

Notes from Yuggoth part 5 (a depleting atmosphere)

Given the relatively small size of Pluto, it may seem unlikely that the dwarf planet has an atmosphere. However, the instruments on New Horizons have indeed detected a nitrogen-rich atmosphere as far as 1,000 miles above Pluto’s surface. It turns out that the dwarf planet’s atmosphere is being stripped away by the sun’s solar winds. A “tail” of cold, dense, ionized gas has been detected trailing 48,000 to 68,000 miles beyond Pluto.


Artist’s conception of solar winds striking Pluto’s atmosphere (

The solar winds are a constant stream of electrically charged particles emitted by the sun in all directions. The average distance of Pluto from the sun is about 3.67 billion miles (approximately 39.5 astronomical units also known as AUs; Earth is approximately 1 AU from the sun). The solar winds hit Pluto and push its atmosphere into space, mostly composed of nitrogen ions. Ionized gas is created when energy (solar winds) slams into gas particles, stripping electrons off of atoms. In turn, this creates plasma, the fourth state of matter which is rare on Earth but is the most abundant form of matter in the Universe.

It has been hypothesized that Cthulhu itself is composed of an extra-dimensional form of plasma, a sort of alien ionized matter crammed into our 4-dimensional space-time. Such a hypothesize would explain the fluidity and strange shape / size changing abilities of Cthulhu as well as its “weakness” relative to existing in our space-time (e.g. imprisoned and asleep in R’lyeh in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean). Maybe additional investigations into Pluto’s atmosphere will contribute toward a better understanding of Cthulhu and many of the other Old Ones!


Cthulhu is more than like composed of a form of alien plasma; artwork by Uncannyknack (

Notes From Yuggoth, part 4 (the Yuggothian System)


A size comparison among Pluto, Charon and Earth (

As NASA scientists sift through the data and release photos of Pluto and Charon, some truly amazing facts are emerging from the kingdom of the Mi-Go. First, the large, bright heart-shaped feature near Pluto’s equator is a mountain range with peaks as high as 11,000 ft. Based on a geologic analysis of these mountains, they are more than likely relatively young, no more than 100 million years ago, which suggests that Pluto may be currently geologically active. Unlike some large moons in the solar system, like Europa, whose geologic activity is largely the result of gravitational interactions with their large parent planets, like Jupiter, Pluto has no such external source for its internal heat. Thus, some other process would be responsible for such geological activity.  Is it possible that mining or other unknown planet-based activities of the Mi-Go are responsible for this geologic activity or is there a more natural process in place?


The water-ice mountains of Pluto (

Charon (possibly Kynarth?) has a fairly young surface, from a geological perspective, as well. Unlike our moon that is riddled with craters Charon surprisingly lacks such features, which is indicative of internal geological processes. More evidence for this includes the actual features that are present, such as cliffs and troughs that stretch approximately 600 miles across the moon’s surface. One canyon was identified to be between 4 to 6 miles deep. In addition, the north polar region of Charon has dark markings with a diffuse boundary, which may suggest a thin deposit or stain on the surface. Are these stains some type of strange alien crop, raised on the icy surface of Charon? Maybe the stain is some type of alien bacteria or lichen, entirely chemotrophic in nature, feeding of the minerals and inorganic compounds on the surface of Charon. Is Charon farmland for the Mi-Go? The Yuggoth system is strange indeed! Fred.


Pluto’s moon Charon. Note the dark stain in the polar region (


Lovecraftian Solar System, Part II: Comets


Lovecraft in Space by Belthazubel (

Last year we discussed the eight planets in the Lovecraftian solar system over a series of articles.  Over the next few weeks we will continue this review of the Lovecraftian solar system, starting with comets.  Lovecraft’s fascination with astronomy began when he was very young and with a book from his grandmother’s collection called Geography of the Heavens (from an article on by Robbie Gonzalez).


This is a plate from the book Geography of the Heavens (

Comets are essentially an icy body that travels through space releasing gas or dust.  They are best described as snowy dirtballs and contain dust, ice, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane and other material (  In Lovecraft’s day, very little was known about the composition of comets.  In an article he wrote about comets in November 1906 called “The Wanderers of Our System” Lovecraft stated, “Comets are extremely light in density, but otherwise from that, little concerning their physical conditions is known, the most prevalent theory being that they are composed of minute particles, enclosed in atmospheres.” (from Collected Essays, Volume 3: Science by H.P. Lovecraft, edited by S.T. Joshi, 2005).

The first comet Lovecraft observed in his life was Borelli’s Comet in August 1903.  In a notebook Lovecraft kept, called “Astronomical Observations Made,” he included lengthy discussions of Halley’s Comet observed on May 26, 1910 and Delavan’s Comet on September 16-17, 1914 (I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft, by S.T. Joshi, 2013).


Some of the part of a comet (

It is interesting to note that Lovecraft wrote articles on astronomy for the Evening News.  In the same paper, J.F. Hartmann had an article published called “Astrology and the European War.”  The article was published in September 4, 1914, three days after Lovecraft’s monthly astronomy article and in the same location where Lovecraft’s articles typically appeared.  Lovecraft had no patience for the subject of astrology and thus a series of debate letters and articles were published in the paper between Lovecraft and Hartmann.  In a letter to his friend Maurice W. Moe Lovecraft noted “Recently a quack named Hartmann, a devotee of the pseudo-science of Astrology, commenced to disseminate the usual pernicious fallacies of the occult art thought he columns of The News, so that in the interests of true Astronomy I was forced into a campaign of invective and satire.” (Joshi, 2013).

In one of the more amusing articles Lovecraft wrote a satirical piece under the name Isaac Bickerstaffe, Jr. in October 24, 1914 titled “Delavan’s Comet and Astrology.” In it Lovecraft, or should I say Bickerstaffe, predicted that Delavan’s Comet would hit the earth in the distance future, the year 4898, and take a large portion of humanity to Venus to live, which is a good thing since he predicted that the world would explode 56 years later in the year 4954 due to increased volcanic activity.  Lovecraft, being a great “astrologer”, actually predicted the exact day the earth would explode – February 26, 4954 (Joshi, 2005).  Unfortunately, while humanity will survive on Venus, in typical Lovecraftian fashion, the explosion of the Earth will create a lot of damage to Venus and its new inhabitants.  Needless to say, this strange parody on the value of astrology somewhat stunned Lovecraft’s intellectual adversary Hartmann (Joshi, 2014).


Halley’s Comet (

In an article for the Ashville [N.C.] Gazette-News in March 1915, Lovecraft reviewed what was known about the comet as of the early 20th century.  In it he briefly reviewed and compared periodic comets (those that revolve around the sun in some type of orbit) to solitary comets (those that appear from deep space and return back into the void never to be seen again).  He also had a brief discussion on some famous comets and once again reviewed what comets were thought to be composed of at the time.  Lovecraft states that comets were thought to be composed of extremely small solid meteoric masses but spread very far apart and possessing individual gaseous materials.  Lovecraft mentioned that some say comets are mainly self-luminous through sparks of electricity but also cited that the reflection of light from the sun contributes to this as well.  We now know that comets are not self-luminescent.

Lovecraft also notes in the article that the tails of a comet can be millions of miles long and that the Earth has passed through portions of these tails in both 1861 and 1910.  In spite of the popular media hype of the time, nothing unusual occurred. There was concern during these past occurrences that cyanogen gas in the tail of the comets would kill all of life on Earth.  Some people took advantage of people’s fears of this situation (see below).




It was not until the early 1950’s when Fred Lawrence Whipple proposed that comets were essentially dirty snowballs and that their tails were the result of the volatilization of gases and the evaporation of water.  Support for this hypothesis was obtained when some European spacecraft flew through the coma (the nebulous envelope around the nucleus of a comet) of Halley’s Comet in 1986 and photographed evaporating material (  Additional data to support this have been obtained through various spacecraft missions from 2001 to 2014; in addition to water vapor, simple organic molecules such as HCN, HNC and H2CO have been detected on and in comets.  This has led some to hypothesize that comets may be the remnants of material that was used in the development of the solar system approximately 4.6 billion years ago.  Also, some hypothesize that comets may have delivered water and organic molecules to early Earth.  Thus, the raw material that the Elder Things used to create complex, eukaryotic life on Earth may have originated from comets.  It makes one wonder what Lovecraft would have thought about with the existing information we have on comets today.

Next time we will talk about how Lovecraft used comets in his tales.  Thank you – Fred.


Lovecraft by Anderpeich (

Postscript: Clark Ashton Smith’s Neptune

I could find only one reference to the planet Neptune in Clark Ashton Smith’s stories and it was one that was already mentioned in the discussion on Jupiter.  “Sadastor” is a short tale about a demon telling a story to a depressed lamia to cheer her up.  In it he talks about traveling through the solar system, which includes a daring flight through the clouds of Jupiter.  In that same passage the demon also refers to “the black and freezing abysses of Neptune, which are crowned with eternal starlight.”  Is this strange description somehow related to HPL’s Neptunian fungi?  While not directly related to Smith’s description, more evidence of HPL’s white fungi is provided below.

Close up of the Great Dark Spot, the Small Dark Spot and “Scooter” on Neptune.  Scooter is a large white cloud that moves quickly around the planet, thus its name.  Is Scooter a community of atmospheric, planktonic fungi, feeding off the gaseous hydrogen or liquid methane and ammonia? (from

The only other mention of Neptune in Smith’s writings that I came across was in a little article he wrote called “The Family Tree of the Gods,” which you can find on  In it Smith provides some information on the family history of some of the “Elder Gods,” which include members of his own mythos as well as those of HPL.

In the article he talks about how Hzioulquoigmnzhah (uncle of Tsathoggua, who we met on Saturn, called Cykranosh by the natives, in “The Door to Saturn”) left his home world in order to avoid being eaten by his parents.  He ends up on Neptune (called Yaksh – by the natives I assume) but wearying of the strange religious devotions of the Yaksahians went on to Cykranosh.  Are the Yaksahians the same group of white fungi that feed off of the atmospheric winds of Neptune or are they an entirely different race of Neptunians?  Only HPL and CAS know for sure.

This article concludes the tour of the Lovecraftian Solar System – at least for now.  I have discussed other parts of the solar sytem in pervous articles (e.g. Pluto (Yuggoth) and our moon) and I do intend to re-vsit the solar system to discuss other components (e.g. our sun, comets, metors, etc.) at a later time.  However, for now I want to move away from the Lovecraftian Solar System and focus on another of HPL’s stories.  Next time we will be discussing “Beyond the Wall of Sleep.”  Thank you – Fred