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When I was a kid,
Part of Space Poetry

Stuhlinger Mars 1957

Stuhlinger Mars 1957
Stuhlinger's proposed fleet of nuclear-electric manned spacecraft approach Mars.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Poem: When I was a kid, we had 9 planets...

When I was a kid, we had 9 planets
and they were all in a neat line to the right of the Sun
(which was just a big slice of yellow)
and we liked it that way!

And Mars had canals
(and maybe ancient cities and certainly some simple vegetation),

Venus was a swamp full of dinosaurs
and exotic plants,

Mercury roasted on one side
and froze on the other all the time,
except for this Twilight Zone area on its terminator
where some kind of life
could exist.
But otherwise
it probably looked just like Earth's Moon.
You know, with all those craters that came from volcanic eruptions.

Yeah, a couple guys think that meteorites may
have caused all those pits, but how often does a world get hit from space

The Asteroid Belt had a lot of objects
- maybe tens of thousands, even -
but they were all way smaller than any known planets
and probably came from a much bigger planet
that exploded ages ago.

Don't ask me how it exploded, okay? It just did,
'cause there's all that debris.

I bet you by the year 2000, astronauts will be out there
mining all those big space rocks for our colonies from Venus to Mars!

Jupiter had a really thick atmosphere with an icy middle and a rocky core,
and the Great Red Spot was from a volcano,
and its moons had some dark smudges we could see
from Earth telescopes but that was about all.

Saturn was the only planet in the whole Solar System with these amazing rings,
and it had this one moon with just enough of an atmosphere
to make its sky a dark blue.

Uranus was tipped on its side
and was surely far more interesting visually than Neptune,
which we only knew had two moons
(okay, one of them did orbit backwards)
and both undoubtely were aquamarine in color
with atmosphere bands
just like their bigger brothers.

We weren't sure what the heck Pluto was.
It sure wasn't a gas giant planet.
It wasn't even as big as Mercury,
though at first we thought it was maybe as big as Earth.
But it was definitely bigger than the Moon
and was probably all alone out there
in the deep darkness at the end of the Solar System.

There was probably one
or maybe two
more planets beyond Pluto,
probably much bigger and just harder to find due to the distance
and the lack of illumination they received from the faraway Sun.

After that there were comets in crazy orbits WAY out past Pluto, some of
them maybe
even halfway to Alpha Centauri.

But that was it.
And we liked it that way.

--Larry Klaes

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