The Moons of Saturn: Taking Cues From a Wounded Icon

Becky
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As of today, Saturn has fifty-six moons. And at the rate new ones are shyly popping up, one might say that the planet is, um, bringing sexy back. Why so many moons, Saturn? Perhaps the planet is overcompensating for all the hating going on around the weary campfires of astrologers. The current planetary weather features an opposition between Saturn and the Sun, and since the Sun is always the home team, everybody's groaning in anticipation of the next dour event we can blame on the old ball of gas.

But maybe Saturn has something to teach us besides how to assume the position. And anything magnetizing enough to boast so many satellites must know something about relationships.

Let's consider this tangle of moons and try to superimpose some "straight-up" cosmology; we'll list the eight major kinds of satellites and their human counterparts. Maybe it'll make you feel better about all that celestial detritus you've got lurking in your own gravitational field...

 

SATURN'S MAJOR PLAYERS:

RING SHEPHERDS: These moons circuit within or just outside the rings. Their chaotic orbits help sharpen and differentiate the rings.

mean hipsterHUMAN COUNTERPART:  These are all exes--typically with non-profit jobs who quit all the habits that made them attractive & now believe they live a "reformed" life; will plot run-ins to lay down rehearsed line inquiring whether you ever optioned that adaptation of Billy Budd.

CO-ORBITALS: Moons obsessed with each other, and with orbits close enough that there'd be a collision if one attempted to pass the other.

annoying coupleHUMAN COUNTERPART: These are couples you keep around a) to reinforce how content you are single or b) to reinforce how abjectly undesirable you feel or c) out of naked curiosity as to whether and whence they'll combust

INNER LARGE MOONS: They orbit inside the tenuous and transparent E Ring (icy, dusty, difficult)

girlsHUMAN COUNTERPART: Yes, these people mire in your tragedies and encourage you to do the same so they'll feel needed.

TROJAN MOONS: They orbit at exactly the same distance from Saturn as other moons and occupy the Lagrangian points, but far enough away from other moons that they never collide

heart boyHUMAN COUNTERPART: Overwhelming, commercial, and boring; these people come into your life at different times but for the same reason: to remind you to hold out.

OUTER LARGE MOONS: Huge moons orbiting beyond the E Ring

msg in botHUMAN COUNTERPART: People you only meet once but end up permanently lodged in your psyche.

THE IRREGULAR SATELLITES GROUP: These dears rock distant, retrograde, and usually inclined orbits; many have been swiped from other heliocentric orbits; in human form, they're manifested as career masochists you shared a few drinks with at the Kuiper Belt and somehow now they're yours.

THE INUIT IRREGULARS: Homogeneous, light-red in hue

HUMAN COUNTERPART: These people are helpful career-wise but ultimately frustrating, often addicted to taurine and Retin-A.

THE NORSE IRREGULARS: A jolly clan of 18 outer moons

HUMAN COUNTERPART: These ones are more maternal and into genealogy; they'll invite you to witness past-life regressions in their backyards.

THE GALLIC IRREGULARS: Substrata of the Inuits

HUMAN COUNTERPART: These harmless ones are less zealous than the rest of the irregular clan, and you'll often end up dating them out of guilt for how poorly you treated the Inuits

alien

February 6, 2007 - 1:55pm
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