Sunday, May 17, 2009

Yuggoth Connection: Venetia Phair dies

Those wild hills are surely the outpost of a frightful cosmic race - as I doubt all the less since reading that a new ninth planet has been glimpsed beyond Neptune, just as those influences had said it would be glimpsed. Astronomers, with a hideous appropriateness they little suspect, have named this thing "Pluto."

Venetia Phair, who named planet Pluto, dies at 90

By ROBERT BARR, Associated Press Writer Robert Barr, Associated Press Writer
7 May 2009

LONDON – Venetia Phair, who was 11 years old when she suggested Pluto as the name of the newly discovered planet, has died at age 90, her family said. She died at home in Epsom on April 30, the family said; the cause of death was not disclosed. The family said a funeral would be held on Friday.

Born Venetia Burney, she suggested the name to her grandfather at breakfast in 1930.

"My grandfather, as usual, opened the paper, The Times, and in it he read that a new planet had been discovered. He wondered what it should be called. We all wondered," she recalled in a short film, "Naming Pluto," released earlier this year.

"And then I said, 'why not call it Pluto?' And the whole thing stemmed from that."

Her grandfather was Falconer Madan, the retired librarian of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. He relayed the suggestion to his friend Herbert Hall Turner, professor of astronomy at Oxford, who on that day was at a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, where possible names for the planet were being discussed.

Turner then passed the suggestion to Clyde W. Tombaugh, who made the discovery, at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona.


Lovecraft rewrote parts of his story "The Whisperer in Darkness" to energize and synchronize with the planet. Lovecraft as a youth believed fervently in a 9th planet, and focused that thought in several poems and writings.

Other weird fantasy capitalizatons were:
"In Plutonian Depths" (Wonder Stories Quarterly, Spring 1931), short story by Stanton A. Coblentz. The first story to take advantage of the newly discovered and named world.
"The Red Peri" (1935), novella by Stanley G. Weinbaum. The title character is a space pirate with a secret base on Pluto.
Cosmic Engineers (1939, 1950), novel by Clifford D. Simak, features a human base on Pluto.

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