Monday, July 20, 2015

CREATIV Magazine, unique reality shows among summer pleasures

July 19
Silly summer fun. Guilty pleasures.
We may all define our seasonal escapist pursuits differently, but chances are, we’re all tempted to indulge every now and again in something a little frivolous, something that may help us feel we’re on vacation, even when we’re not.
Halfway through my favorite season, I’ve only managed one weekend getaway and haven’t seen a single blockbuster movie.
But I have given myself permission to join the binge-watch brigades, and I’ve found and gone through a weird genre or two.
My recent faves include “Married at First Sight” and “Arranged.”
The Bachelors and Bachlorettes have long-since lost their luster, but I admit to being intrigued, and then hooked, by these chronicles of alternatives to choose-it-yourself matrimony.
“Married at First Sight” fyitv/shows/married-at-first-sight is explained in the title. Three couples, paired by four “relationship experts,” meet for the first time at the altar, immediately set off to honeymoon at exotic locales, live together for several weeks and then are asked to decide if they want to get divorced or stay together.
“Arranged” fyitv/shows/arranged also featured three couples, all from “traditional cultures” whose families helped with the matchmaking. The motley crew included teens (bride, 17, and groom, 18) from close-knit Romani (Gypsy) families; a couple from the deep South in their 20s, a grad student and a physician finishing his training; and my personal faves, a 30-something professional couple (a laid-back physician and his high-powered business executive wife) who finally gave in to their parents with traditional East Indian roots, who helped arrange their match on an online dating site.
The take-away is that marriage is not easy, however it comes about, and adding reality show observation doesn’t help. However we get to the altar, you have to admire the courage of those of us who have been brave enough to try it.
I also try to get more adventurous and laid-back in my choice of reading material during the summer months, especially rewarding for those of us who give so much at the office, online, and are often burdened with homework in the form of books, reports, e-mailed and texted links and oppressive amounts of new apps.
Luckily, some entertaining finds have materialized this summer, in the line of duty, including a bumper crop of books and specialty publications.
A breathtakingly beautiful publication called  CREATIV started showing up on my desk in the spring. The Arizona-based magazine, on the cover of its latest issue, lists “ADVENTURE/ART/CULTURE/INNOVATION” and manages to more than live up to its masthead credo. CREATIV’s photos, art, design, layout and reproduction on thick, high-gloss paper are some of the most lovely I’ve seen in a long lifetime reviewing and writing about visual arts, travel, and diverse cultures and enjoying and sometimes curating exhibits while living in Europe, New York City, Portland, Ore., Santa Fe, Florida and the Caribbean.
This magazine reminded me of the reasons I still vacation at art meccas ... it’s what I love. CREATIV captures images of art and artists in unique ways. Their May issue, for example, included a starry Patagonian sky, closeups of tiger eyes and zebra patterns, giant origami paper horses, a vividly ethereal jellyfish, and eclectic and entertaining profiles of a creative philanthropist and imaginative entrepreneurs.
At a time when I’m cancelling most of my magazine subscriptions and, like most of us, moving more and more online, CREATIV reminded me of what print media, at its best, can achieve. It’s timely, timeless and collectible and makes me feel better about new generations and the future of art and publishing.
Give in to a guilty pleasure during silly summertime. Indulge a little and squander some time looking for something new and different. You could be entertained. You could stumble upon sources of insight and inspiration. And you might just discover a treasure.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

Adios to Fred "Rainbow Man" Stern

Fred Stern, “the Rainbow Man,” is dead at 76. After a fall, the internationally renowned artist who called Las Cruces home, lingered for several weeks before dying in hospice care in El Paso on June 21.
Throughout a long and unique career, Stern created more than 50 rainbows all over the world to benefit and promote charities and worthy causes ranging from hospice in Las Cruces, to a “peace” rainbow over the United Nations building in New York and a recent, multi-award-winning project involving a series of rainbows in Africa.
With the help of fire departments and ever-evolving artistry and technology, Stern carefully computed angles and weather conditions, but, like the fabled scientist who analyzed rainbows and then believed in their magic anyway, Stern retained an almost childlike enthusiasm that was infectious.
“Rainbows have cultural meanings all over the world and really interesting philosophical implications. A rainbow needs an eye to be seen. It only exists next to a point you’re looking at it, which brings it into existence. A rainbow is not a real object. As you get close to it, it gets smaller. So in a sense, we are what is at the end and the center of every rainbow,” Stern said in a June 29, 2014, interview with the Sun-News.
That year, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of free elections for South Africa (known as the Rainbow Nation), Stern creating a series of large-scale rainbows in the sky over the Johannesburg skyline. The project was the basis of the short video piece, “A Rainbow for the Rainbow Nation.” The video was selected from more than 32,500 submissions for France’s prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival for the Creative Communications Industry. The video won the top Golden Lion honors, as well as two silver and two bronze awards.
“It was a fantastic experience. After Johannesburg, I went to Cape Town, the most amazingly beautiful place I’ve ever seen, for the African version of Burning Man, AfrikaBurn, and created a natural rainbow over the huge event’s sculptural piece before it was burned,” Stern said.
“My vision was an around-the-world tour with a series of major rainbow-type events,” said Stern, who managed to do just that for more than three decades.
“Maybe my favorites have been the ones for children with health issues,” said Stern, who devised a way to make “moonbows” at Camp Sundown for children with a condition that makes exposure to sunlight harmful. He also worked with American Cancer Society Relay for Life events, the Alzheimer Association and Hospice.
Stern was politically active throughout his life. In the 1960s, he organized Freedom Rides to the South, and spoke out against conflicts in the Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was born on June 3, 1939, in Philadelphia and grew up in New York City. He studied at the Pratt Institute, Columbia University, and received a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Rhode Island.
“I got into art working with light shows at the Fillmore East in New York. I started work on multimedia electric light projects in large-scale urban environments. A rainbow is really a three-dimensional sculpture that’s just not permanent. I generate an artificial rainfall by pumping water into the air using local fire department equipment. These water droplets refract the sun’s light to establish the rainbow. I use a computer program to determine the optimal time, position and spray parameters for rainbow generation,” he said, explaining the process that created arcs of 200 feet and more.
He adapted rainbows to local environmental conditions. Where water was plentiful and easily recycled, in ocean harbors, for instance, he made rainbows that involved pumping 120,000 gallons of water per minute. A rainbow in Africa used just 30 gallons. One of his smallest rainbows was made with a pocket prism at Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated.
He also coordinated groups of artists in the presentation of environmental works for the International Sculpture Conference in Washington, D.C., and the Festival de Dos Culturas in Mexico. He served as an adviser and participant at New York’s annual Avant Garde Festival for more than 10 years and served as associate professor of sculpture and engineering at Pratt Institute, and as associate professor of visual arts at New York University, the University of Maryland and the Instituto de Allende in Mexico.”
His honors include an Art in Public Places Individual Artist Award and other awards from the National Endowment for the Arts.
He moved to New Mexico in 1992 and was active in the Silver City arts community. He moved to Las Cruces in 1999.
The creative and colorful Stern died as he lived, friends said.
“Fred was a great friend and a dedicated artist. He not only delighted uncounted observers around the world with his rainbows but remained a curious, committed artist experimenting with a variety of media. Fred was full of life and energy, still creating everything from rainbows to poems, falling in and out of love, and talking earnestly about the strange wonder of living. Fred died following his artistic bent, climbing onto a wall to take a photograph of the full moon rising. He lost his balance, fell and caused severe damage to his spinal cord. He fought valiantly in the hospital, but the injury was too severe,” said his longtime friend, Peter Goodman.
“Fred believed strongly that the world was a magical place in which everything happened for a reason, with no coincidences,” Dael Goodman said.
Stern is survived by his daughters, Diane Stern of Santa Fe, and Cheryl Silberman of Huntington, New York, and “a family of friends across the globe.”
A celebration of his life is planned on Aug. 9. For directions and more information about the memorial, send an email to
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.

Friday, July 10, 2015


By S. Derrickson Moore >> >> @DerricksonMoore on Twitter
LAS CRUCES >> It’s almost Plutopalooza prime time. On Tuesday, nearly a decade after the New Horizons probe was launched with Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes on board, the spacecraft will make its closest approach to Pluto.
It’s been a long wait for fans of the dwarf planet and the man who discovered Pluto on Feb. 18, 1930.
And the excitement is mounting all over planet Earth, especially in Las Cruces, the place Tombaugh called home for most of his long life, until his death in Mesilla Park on Jan. 17, 1997. His fans are celebrating with two months of special events that include talks, star parties, workshops, art and science projects, exhibits and a big Plutopalooza party on July 25.
A celebration is also underway in the Illinois town where Tombaugh was born on Feb. 4, 1906.
“This is the year of Pluto in Streator, Illinois. We’re having a lot of fun,” reports Ed Brozak, a Streator councilman and chief Pluto booster.
“We actually got ahold of two of Clyde’s telescopes and we’re looking at stars. We’ve had some talks, but all of the real (New Horizons) scientists are really busy around this time and it’s hard to get a lot of them involved,” Brozak said.
But their hero is being honored with events that include a Pluto Polka Party and Big Bang Brewfest. The citizenry is showing up wearing buttons that say “PLUTO: WE BELIEVE.” And the town website,, features a dramatic poster with the New Horizons probe, Pluto and one of its moons and the message: “HE ARRIVES. JULY 2015.”
There’s also a commemorative Clyde postcard, and Brozak said the town council has renamed a local street “Pluto Pathway.”
“The street signs aren’t up yet, but we’ve passed an ordinance,” Brozak said.
It’s also been a busy couple of months for Las Cruces residents Annette and Alden Tombaugh, the children of Clyde and Patricia Edson Tombaugh.
Their mom got to watch the New Horizons launch in January 2003. She died in 2012 at the age of 99.
“We were all hoping she’d make it for the Pluto flyby, but we knew it was a stretch,” said Alden Tombaugh, who reports that many family members, including grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews, are following the event with interest.
“We’re thrilled about it. We’re very much looking forward to it. We’re doing a lot of press stuff and we’ve been in touch with a whole group that includes the upper crust of astrophysicists whose accomplishments are astounding and they’re all working together on this. (The New Horizons mission) is quite an accomplishment. Dad would have been totally thrilled with this adventure and the fact that his ashes are on board to honor him,” said Alden, who, with his sister, recently returned from ceremonies honoring their father at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, site of their father’s discovery of Pluto.
“We were there to dedicate dad’s apartment and for a fund-raising gala. We had a great time, meeting with old friends, people we played with as children. There is great anticipation for the flyby,” said Annette Tombaugh, who is currently consulting on several related projects and doing media interviews.
“There are three TV shows in the works, a PBS “NOVA” show on Pluto, a NASA Show and a Discovery Channel show,” she said.
According to a NASA website, National Geographic Channel and Japan’s NHK are also planning in-depth programming and by late June, more than 200 members of the press had registered to cover the flyby at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., which designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
“Things are pretty fast and furious now. The flyby will be 7:40 a.m. EST on July 14 and the downloads will start that evening. It will be like flying an airplane over Las Cruces and being able to pick out the Las Cruces Sun-News building. We should get some really fine details of Charon and Pluto’s other four moons,” Annette Tombaugh said.
She is not dwelling on speculation that the probe could provide information that might upgrade Pluto to full planetary status again.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen and I don’t want to really speculate. Pluto has been classified as a dwarf planet, correctly, I think. That’s what it is, similar to other Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO), but also similar to non-KBOs. Pluto has a double planet system with its largest moon, the first we have found in our solar system,” Annette said.
There has been a bittersweet quality to the festivities for the Tombaughs.
“My parents would have been so excited. It’s been almost like mourning mom and dad all over again,” Annette said, as attention has focused on her parents’ long careers, civic contributions and her father’s remarkable discovery.
And remarkable it was and continues to be, said Kim Hanson, education curator at the Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science, where she has researched Tombaugh’s life for permanent and rotating exhibits and annual Tombaugh Day celebrations.
“He found Pluto in a place where it shouldn’t have been, acting in ways it shouldn’t have been acting, with equipment much worse than he should have needed to find it,” said Hanson, who feels Tombaugh’s accomplishment is in no way diminished by a reclassification to dwarf planet status more than 75 years after its discovery.
“Pluto doesn’t care what we call it. It will go on being Pluto,” Hanson said.
Annette recalled being on site with her mother for the Jan. 16, 2006, New Horizons launch on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
“Just being next to something so powerful and so beautiful was wonderful. And this is not the end of the mission. It’s really just the beginning. This will help us understand the infinite variety of the members of the universe. I love that variety,” Annette Tombaugh said.
As part of Las Cruces Plutopalooza, a series of events celebrating the New Horizons’ flyby of Pluto, city museums are hosting several events. Dave Dooling, New Mexico Museum of Space History education director, will present some early highlights of the mission at “New Horizons Has Arrived!” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science, 411 N. Main St. Family Science Saturday programs will focus on rocketry at 10 a.m. Saturday and July 25 at the Branigan Cultural Center, 501 N. Main St. The Las Cruces Railroad Museum, 351 N. Mesilla St., will host a Star Party with the New Mexico State University Astronomy Department from 9 to 11 p.m. Saturday. The Museum of Nature and Science will host “Space Weather Action News,” a workshop for kids in grades three to five that will include a chance to learn about the Sun and its effect on the solar system while assembling a space weather station to take home from 2 to 4 p.m. July 23.
“Beyond Pluto: The Clyde Tombaugh Story,” a collaborative exhibit with the NMSU Library, runs through July 25 at the Branigan Cultural Center.
“Plutopalooza: Night Under the Stars” from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. July 25 in the BCC courtyard, will feature a celebration of the New Horizons mission to Pluto with the latest images from the mission projected on a large screen, space-themed hands-on activities, a last chance to see the “Beyond Pluto” exhibit, dinner with Las Cruces’ local food trucks and a cash-only bar. The event is for ages 21 and up and ID is required.
All the Plutopalooza events are free. For more information, visit or call 575-522-3120. Follow the progress of the New Horizons mission to Pluto at Watch a NASA documentary on the mission at
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.

The cosmic legacy of space pioneer Clyde Tombaugh

It’s one of the first thing newcomers are told about when they move to Las Cruces, if they don’t already know: Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto, spent most of his life here.
Clyde was still here when I arrived in 1994 and I was fortunate to be able to interview him several times and spend some quality time with him and his wife, Patricia.
He generously let me get up close and personal with some of his homemade telescopes in his Mesilla Park backyard. He shared a lot of interesting stories about the scientific giants of his era, in fields ranging from rocketry to astronomy and nuclear physics. He was more than half a century my senior, but we had a surprising overlap in people we knew and admired.
And Patricia (which she preferred to “Patsy,” her kids report, “though she wasn’t uptight about it”) was equally generous in sharing her knowledge and talents in both the arts and sciences with the world and our community.
A lot of attention has been focused on Pluto in recent months, and there are more than a couple of sources who believe information from the New Horizons probe will return our favorite son’s discovery to full-fledged planetary status.
I’ve come to believe it doesn’t matter all that much if Pluto continues with its reclassified “dwarf planet” status.
Patricia liked to point out that its status as the smallest planet of the then-official nine somehow endeared it to us, and especially to our children, who took to the Tombaughs like a kind of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus of the cosmos. During lecture tours and visits to area schools, kids were rapt and attentive as they heard about Clyde and his astronomical discoveries after Pluto (including numerous star clusters and clusters of galaxies, hundreds of asteroids, two comets, one nova, and the full extent of the Great Perseus-Andromeda Stratum of Extra-Galactic Nebulae).
It’s apt that Tombaugh Elementary School is among one of the regional institutions named for Clyde (others include the Tombaugh IMAX Dome Theatre and Planetarium at the New Mexico Space History Museum, the Tombaugh Observatory at NMSU, and the Tombaugh Art Gallery at Unitarian Universalist Church, where the Tombaughs were founding members).
If you’re a newcomer, you may not know the story of Clyde, a bright and persistent boy who grew up on farms in small communities in Illinois and Kansas, built his own telescopes and sent sketches of his observations to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. They were so impressed that they hired Clyde, who had not yet begun college studies, to conduct planet-search photography in 1929. In 1930, with painstaking comparisons of “blinking” photographic plates, he discovered Pluto.
It was an amazing feat in that pre-computer era, rendered even more amazing by the fact that it would be more than 75 years later, in a new millennium of high-tech advances, before some astronomers figured they had enough data about what we now refer to as Kuiper Belt Objects to reclassify Clyde’s discovery. On Aug. 24, 2006, at a still-controversial meeting of the International Astronomical Union, a vote involving 424 astronomers defined the term “planet” for the first time, a definition that excluded Pluto and added it as a member of the new “dwarf planet” category.
That was nearly a decade after Clyde’s passing, and I wonder if they would have had the nerve to try it if he’d still been alive. There were mutterings earlier, but when last I talked to Clyde, he told me that Pluto behaved as a planet, and a unique and unusual planet, at that.
Stay tuned for more on that. At this writing, Pluto and its five moons are showing some characteristics that could knock our cosmic socks off, in layperson Pluto fan terms. Astronomers are now talking about the ways Pluto and its biggest moon Charon are functioning as a “double planet system” and there are reportedly some intriguing and surprising aspects involving Pluto’s other moons, which include  Kerberos, Styx, Nix and Hydra. There are also recent discoveries of mysterious dark spots — at this writing, a big polar one on Charon and a group of dark circles on Pluto.
What we do know is that Clyde had an extraordinary life and career, and the discovery of Pluto, and a resulting scholarship that allowed him to attend college, were just the beginning. Check out his accomplishments at the exhibit continuing this month at the Branigan Cultural Center.
And join his friends, fans and family for the big Plutopalooza street party downtown on July 25 and follow-up lectures and reports that will continue at annual Tombaugh Days celebrations each February at the Las Cruces Museum of Nature & Science.
Little Pluto, and the achievements of the man who discovered it, are wonders whose depths we have only begun to probe and appreciate.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

•1906: Feb. 4: Clyde William Tombaugh born on a farm near Streator, Ill.
•1922: Family moved to Kansas farm
•1925: Graduated from Burdett High School, Burdett, Kan.
•1926: Constructed first telescope
•1927-28: Constructed 9-inch telescope
•1929: After sending planetary sketches to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., hired by observatory director V. M. Slipher to conduct planet-search photography
•1930: Feb. 18: Discovered ninth planet Pluto by comparing “blinking” photographic plates
•1930: March 13: Official announcement of the discovery
•1931: Awarded the Jackson-Gwilt Medal and Gift by the Royal Astronomical Society in recognition of his discovery. Also received the Edwin Emory Slosson Scholarship to University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan.
•1932: Entered University of Kansas as a freshman; continued planet search work at Lowell Observatory in the summers while pursuing his university education
•1934: Married Patricia (Patsy) Edson (two children: Annette, born 1940 and Alden, born 1945)
•1936: B.A., University of Kansas
•1939: M.A., University of Kansas. Thesis: “Study of the Observational Capabilities of the University’s 27-inch Newtonian Reflector with a Program to Restore the Telescope to Pristine Condition”
•1943-45: Taught at Arizona State Teachers College (now Northern Arizona University) in Flagstaff, Ariz. serving first as physics instructor for the college and later as navigation instructor for the Navy V-12 program
•1945: End of the Trans-Saturnian Planet Search at Lowell Observatory. In addition to identifying the ninth planet Pluto, during the course of the planet search Tombaugh discovered numerous star clusters and clusters of galaxies, hundreds of asteroids, two comets, one nova and showed the full extent of the Great Perseus-Andromeda Stratum of Extra-Galactic Nebulae.
•1945-46: Visiting Assistant Professor in Astronomy at University of California at Los Angeles
•1946: Moved to Las Cruces, N.M.
•1946-50: As Chief of Optical Measurements Section at White Sands Proving Ground, Tombaugh was responsible for the tracking telescopes used to photograph rockets and missiles during test flights.
•1950-55: Optical physicist in charge of optical and photographic research in the Systems Engineering Branch at White Sands Proving Ground
•1951: Founded Las Cruces Astronomical Society with Jed Durrenberger, Walter Haas, and others, and served as its first president
•1952: Returned to Lowell Observatory for a few months to conduct preliminary work on a proposed survey of proper motion stars
•1953-55: Initiated and led Near Earth Satellite Search, funded by the Army Office of Ordnance Research and conducted at Lowell Observatory. The search was focused on identifying any small natural satellites of the Earth as a preparatory step to beginning space exploration.
•1955: Administration of the satellite search project transferred from White Sands Proving Ground to the Physical Science Laboratory at New Mexico State University.
•1955: Clyde and Patsy Tombaugh were among the founding members of the Las Cruces Unitarian Fellowship (now Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces).
•1956-58: Satellite search project conducted in Quito, Ecuador; search was extended beyond the original end date of 1957 in order to photograph the first man-made satellite Sputnik I.
•1958-73: Initiated and led photographic Planetary Patrol of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
•1959: Near Earth Satellite Search final report issued; no satellites had been found. This negative result gave assurance that rockets could be sent into space without colliding with natural debris.
•1959-68: Transferred from NMSU Physical Science Laboratory to new NMSU Research Center as associate research professor. In addition to the planetary patrol work, Tombaugh carried out projects studying the geology of Mars and conducted a site evaluation study for a proposed Air Force observatory near Cloudcroft, N.M.
•1960: Received honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Ariz.
•1961-70: Taught astronomy part time in the Department of Earth Sciences (renamed Department of Earth Sciences and Astronomy in 1965), continued research work in NMSU Research Center half-time
•1968: Worked to establish Astronomy graduate program in at NMSU moved forward with the submission of a “Request for Preliminary Accreditation for a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy”
•1970, July 1: Ph.D. granting Department of Astronomy established at New Mexico State University
•1972: Dedication of the Clyde W. Tombaugh Observatory on the New Mexico State University campus
•1973: Retired from NMSU as Emeritus Professor of Astronomy
•1980: “Out of the Darkness, The Planet Pluto,” an autobiographical account of the discovery, published with co-author Patrick Moore. Numerous events held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto, including the meeting “Pluto - The Ninth Planet’s Golden Year,” sponsored by the NMSU Department of Astronomy.
•1986: Clyde Tombaugh Scholars Fund in support of postdoctoral fellowship at NMSU established
•1987-88: Conducted national speaking tour to raise funds for Tombaugh Scholars Fund
•1997, Jan. 17: Died at his home in Mesilla Park
•2006, Jan. 19: New Horizons was launched on an Atlas V rocket, from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, directly into an Earth-and-solar-escape trajectory with Clyde’s ashes on board, leaving Earth at the fastest launch speed ever recorded for a human-made object. It flew by Jupiter on Feb, 28, 2007, and Saturn’s orbit on June 8, 2008. Slated to arrive at Pluto on July 14, 2015 and then continue into the Kuiper belt.
•Aug. 24, 2006: At a still-controversial meeting of the International Astronomical Union, a vote involving 424 astronomers defined the term “planet” for the first time, a definition which excluded Pluto and added it as a member of the new “dwarf planet” category.
•March 2, 2010: On “The Pluto Files” NOVA show on PBS, Neil deGrasse Tyson profiled Clyde and interviewed members of the Tombaugh family and famous supporters of Pluto’s planetary status, including Jon Stewart and Diane Sawyer.
•Jan. 12, 2012: Patricia Edson Tombaugh, Clyde’s wife, lecture partner and community leader, died in Las Cruces at age 99.
•Feb. 2, 2013: Tombaugh Day established at Las Cruces Museum of Nature & Science. A celebration is planned annually near Clyde’s Feb. 4 birthday.
•July 14, 2015: New Horizons probe, launched on Jan. 19, 2006, with Clyde’s ashes on board, slated to make its closest approach to Pluto. In 2010, a special festival, Plutopalooza, was proposed to celebrate the event in June and July, 2015 in Las Cruces. Clyde’s birthplace, Steater, Ill., also had a 2015 Plutopalooza event.

Vacationitis and armchair travels to cool Pluto

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m suffering from a major case of vacationitis.
For me, it’s an ailment that’s much more severe than spring fever, and it’s always worst in June and July.
By this stage of my life, I figured that it might eventually move back or forward a few months, due to differences in climate and the fact that school gets out earlier and starts earlier here than it did in my Michigan youth.
But after two-thirds of my life spent in other climes, my soul still seems to be on Midwestern vacay time.
I know it makes sense to hold out for fall, arguably the most beautiful time here, if I want to follow my recent vacation patterns and focus on free-range adventures around the Southwest.
And it’s always nice to have a little break in early spring and save a few days for year-end holidays with friends.
My soul and my body and my mind do not care about such practical considerations.
My body remembers a childhood of summers on Lake Michigan, leisurely days on pine-rimmed, rustic spring-fed lakes and wild, icy rivers. July was the time for long canoe trips and sunset sails and entire days spent in a damp bathing suit, a season of 24-7 bare feet and toes that always seemed to have sand between them.
When I attempt to convince myself that lunch-hour laps in a chlorinated pools are just as good, I sometimes succeed.
But not during the summer.
Luckily, until vacation time arrives, I have a cool interim escape plan.
Very cool. I’m talking subzero, WAY subzero, Plutonian cool.
Whatever our hot and occasionally humid summer is doing, I know it’s always reliably cold on our favorite dwarf planet.
How cold is it on Pluto? Temperatures range  from -387 to -369 Fahrenheit (-233 to -223 Celsius), according to Cal Tech’s website
As Plutopalooza instigator, I’ve felt an obligation to keep tabs on the New Horizons Probe, which was launched in 2006 with the ashes of Pluto’s discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh, on board.
The probe will make its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, but in the meantime, supercool and fascinating information is continuously on tap to surprise and delight you, especially if you have a great fondness for space stuff and for Clyde and his family. Many of us have been lucky enough to be their friends and neighbors here for many years,
That connection makes it all more exciting, and a little vacationitis escapism helps, along with a good imagination. So far, there have been a lot of wobbly dots out there as the New Horizons travels billions of miles from lanchpad Earth.
Lately, we’ve been getting to the good stuff, like the news of a mysterious “Dark Pole” on Charon, Pluto’s biggest moon.
You can follow along
And in the meantime, we’re in the midst of two months of Plutopalooza celebrations and special programs at city museums, organized by the Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science, including lectures, special events and an exhibit “Beyond Pluto: The Clyde Tombaugh Story.” Visit city museums for a complete schedule of events and consider taking the family for two Saturday events at the Branigan Cultural Center: a Family Science Saturday program on rockets at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m workshop (this one’s for ages 15 and up) investigating the interior of a telescope.
Come back to this space next Sunday and we’ll tell you more about Clyde and his career and family, the big upcoming fly-by, artists who are commemorating Pluto, planetary exploration and the cosmos, the big Plutopalooza, over-21 Pluto Fly-by Night Under the Stars Fiesta from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. July 25 downtown and more ways you can join in local celebrations of this unique event.
It’s a cool, one-of-a-kind happening, the likes of which, like Clyde, we’ll never see again.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout or call 575-541-5450.

UFOS, Chiles and multi-cultural fun on New Mexico Fourth of July

June 28
There’s no place like New Mexico to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Some may find that view a bit ironic, since a large contingent of America’s population still fails to recognize that we are one of the 50 United States, with a history of freedom fighters and freedom-loving tribes that predates the east coast revolutionary bunch by a few centuries.
But apparently our love of freedom and our welcoming and inclusive attitude toward new cultures is no secret in the universe.
I like to think those now-legendary, if still controversial, ETs had decided the Land of Enchantment was the best place to study Earth’s diverse cultures and quaint fiestas when they headed toward  Roswell back in July of 1947. Whatever your views on the fabled incident (and for decades, I’ve been hearing second-and-third-hand testimonials from allegedly reliable sources that it definitely was NOT a weather balloon that crashed there), I can personally attest that the annual Roswell UFO Fest should be on every discerning Earthling’s bucket list. My fave attractions are the UFO Mart merchandise and the pet and human alien costume contests.
And I personally think Southern New Mexico has the corner on the America’s best Independence Day fiestas, many within a fairly close distance. With some creative planning and a few day trips, you could conceivably enjoy an imaginative assortment of fireworks displays and exotic and downhome fiesta experiences with the confines of a holiday weekend.
Where else could you enjoy the rockets’ red glare exploding above a fleet of historic rockets? Consider spending the Fourth at the Alamogordo Annual Fireworks Extravaganza at the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
If you enjoy watching fireworks reflections over large bodies of water in high desert country, you have a couple of good choices.
Check out one of the first fireworks displays this year, the annual Star Spangled Fireworks Celebration Thursday at Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino near Ruidoso. Or head for Elephant Butte Lake State Park on Saturday (or July 5th if they’re rained out, which never seems to happen) and watch them launch fireworks from Rattlesnake Island. Why not enjoy both waterside fireworks fiestas?
Personally, I’ve long wanted to try the suggestion of Olin Calk, creator of our giant roadrunner, and head up its new perch off I-10 overlooking the city and get a big bird’s eye view of official and renegade firework displays all around the Mesilla Valley.
Other musts on my Independence Day “To Do Someday Soon” list include visits to regional celebrations that bill themselves as “old-fashioned,” like cool Cloudcroft’s downhome parade and melodrama performances, and the border-hopping parade in the Leap Year Capital of the World, which marches over the border from Anthony, N.M., to Anthony Texas.
You get a free hotdog if you’re one of the first to show up dressed in red, white and blue at Deming’s old-fangled fiesta.
And first on my “old-fashioned” wish list this year is Silver City’s celebration, which starts out with a Kiwanis Cowboy Breakfast. This year it’ll be pancakes, which can be quite exciting, “depending on what you do with the syrup,” I was informed by Scott Terry, president and CEO of the Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce. The fun also includes fireworks, of course, a festival in Gough Park, and games and an ice cream social at the Silver City Museum.
But the highlight for many, I suspect, will be Silver’s old-fashioned parade, known for its horses. And I just got a media release informing us that this year, the parade will include bicyclists distributing free organic fruit to the crowds.
Only in Silver City. And only in New Mexico.
I’ll say a prayer for all those who crave peace and freedom, for whom bombs bursting in air too often can be an everyday ordeal or threat, instead of a patriotic anthem. In our own country, I’ll continue to hope and pray that any and all of us have the freedom to gather in a church, a school, a theater or a park, in any American community, without the threat of hate crimes and violent armed attacks.
And while we’re celebrating, may we have the wisdom and grace to remember that until we all have basic human freedoms, none of us is truly free.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-com, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.