Witchy practices often focus on the goddess, especially during lunar rituals such as full moon and new moon. But let us not forget her consort, the god, the masculine half of the deity. Like the goddess, the god comes in many different forms, with many different names, and he changes shape throughout the course of the year.
We draw on the same mythological pantheons for the names we call the gods as we do for our goddesses. Greek and Roman gods are often well known (Neptune, Saturn, Pluto, Mars, and Mercury… now where have I heard those before?), as are some Celtic, Norse, and Egyptian gods (among others). Even the names of the days of the week come from the names of Norse gods, such as Thor (Thor’s day became Thursday) and Woden (Wednesday).
Zeus was the father of the Greek gods and ruled from high atop Mount Olympus. (And when they say he was the father of the gods, they aren’t kidding-the guy seriously got around.) The modern-day Olympics are based on a Greek festival that was held in his honor.
Jupiter was Zeus’s Roman counterpart, and like Zeus, he was known for throwing thunderbolts bolts at those who pissed him off. This was true of Thor as well, who was a god of justice. I guess you can figure out what happened to those who didn’t play nice … (ouch, sizzle).
Many Witches like to call on gods from the Celtic pantheon, especially Cernunnos and Herne, both of whom were usually depicted as the figure of a man with stag’s antlers. It is likely that these gods were the origin, at least in part, of the Green Man and Horned God that play such an important part in Pagan worship. We also call on the sun god Lugh, especially on Lugh- nasadh, the holiday we celebrate in his honor.
Apollo was the Greek sun god who was also a god of healing. Traditionally, the sun tended to be the domain of the gods, while the moon fell under the influence of the goddess. This may explain why the god dies during the darkest time of the year and then is reborn at Yule, when the light is beginning to return.
As with the goddess, some Witches call the god by one particular name, or many, or simply use “the god.” It is worth taking the time to explore the many myths and stories surrounding the Pagan gods. Not only are the stories interesting in their own right, but you never know when some god will pop out and call your name, informing you that from that time on, you may call him-and he will answer.
–Deborah Blake, Everyday Witch A to Z: An Amusing, Inspiring & Informative Guide to the Wonderful World of Witchcraft
This is the original cross-quarter day between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice. It is known as Martinmas, after St. Martin, and is observed with a traditional meal of salted(or preserved) food. Peace vigils are held at 11:11 AM to commemorate the 1918 for or meditate on peace on earth. The numerological significance of 11/11 is particularly powerful, since 11 is a “master number,” signifying both good and evil, while the combined numerals give a key of 4, representing the earth, the seasons and the phases of the moon.
Harness today’s numerological power by meditating on peace throughout the world. Women should invoke the planets Pluto and Neptune, the element of water and the darkness and silence of the night to connect with the inner goddess, men should focus on their anima or feminine side.
The Wicca Book of Days
Observances, Traditions, and Lore for Every Day of the Year
This week there’s something for everyone when it comes to communication and romance. Read all about it!
Monday, November 2: Mercury enters Scorpio; Venus conjunct Mars in Virgo
On Monday, Mercury enters mysterious Scorpiowhere he’ll remain until November 20. During this stretch of time, you’ll be far more adept at deciphering the meaning of words left unsaid. When it comes to matters of the heart, this will also be quite a lusty day. Venus and Mars will melt into each other, in the earthy sign Virgo. As a result, you’ll waste no time getting down and dirty with the one you love. Chemistry will play a major factor here — pay attention to what those pheromones do to you!
Thursday, November 5: Sun in Scorpio sextile Pluto
The Sun in Scorpio will also be at a sextile to Pluto on Thursday. This will support any of that behind the scenes research you might be working on all week. The more you have to dig, the better. You’re definitely up for a challenge.
Friday, November 6: Mercury trine Neptune
On Friday, you might feel a telepathic connection between yourself and someone close thanks to Mercury trining Neptune. Use this day to work on an imaginative project that you love such as creative writing, music, or to study up on a spiritual topic.
Sunday, November 8: Venus enters Libra
Then on Sunday, Venus moves into her home sign of Libra where she’ll remain until December 4. You’ll crave more balance in partnership matters and will do what you can to “make nice” with your mate.
Your Daily Horoscopes for Thursday, September 24th
There is a tendency to become taken or even obsessed with an idea, line of thought, or problem today, dear Aries, with Mercury square stationing Pluto. This certainly be used constructively to solve an ongoing problem, but could be the source of conflict otherwise. Try to find the middle ground between defense and offense in conversations today. Emphasis now should be on how to get over those things that you’ve been obsessing over and getting nowhere with. Try your best to get over attitudes or thought patterns that are too negative to do you any good. A problem that surfaced two weeks ago could now require a second look. Slow-moving Pluto retrogrades for several months every year, and it is now ending its retrograde period. Career, financial, and intimacy matters begin to move forward or “unblock” over the next weeks and months. Even so, this can be an intense time for happenings in your career and your personal life. Extremes of feeling are likely as the shift occurs. Going forward, good energy is with you for making necessary changes in relationships with a parent or boss. If there is a negative attitude or bad habit that you need to kick, this is the time to do so.
There can be some mental tension today, dear Taurus, but if you harness the energy you may be able to think up solutions to ongoing problems. Avoid obsessive thinking if it begins to feel self-destructive as much as possible, and you’ll feel more in sync with your intuition. Slow-moving Pluto retrogrades for several months every year, and it is now ending its retrograde period. Problems with a partner or close friend that have been brewing under the surface of things, or put on a shelf, are beginning to make themselves known. You begin to want to handle things, and no longer fall back on quick fixes for problems. While the shift occurs today and tomorrow, people may be more emotionally reactive and possibly quick on the trigger. However, going forward, you’ll be clearer on how a relationship stands, and travel, educational, legal, and promotional matters might also straighten out. Faith in a system or conviction for a particular belief could return, and your desire to explore the world increases with Pluto’s change in direction.
There can be some intensity to the day, dear Gemini, particularly on a mental level. A problem can re-emerge today, and you could be encountering the darker side of others close to you, and possibly of yourself. Avoid defensiveness in conversations now. Your judgment may be a little off or extreme regarding financial and love matters. Protect cherished relationships from needless harsh words and misunderstandings. Positively, this can be a time to really get to the heart of a matter or to fix areas that leave you feeling vulnerable. Slow-moving Pluto retrogrades for several months every year, and is now turning direct. Unrest that you’ve been feeling in past months is coming to a point of resolution. This week, you begin to feel more confident about the changes that have been made, particularly in your work, daily habits, health, intimate relationships, and finances. This is a strong time for identifying unnecessary elements in your routine or in your own attitudes, making it easier to streamline. You may be actively researching something today, and you can really apply yourself with focus and dedication, but do watch for taking something to an extreme.
This can be a day when mental energy is intense, dear Cancer, with retrograde Mercury in difficult aspect with stationing Pluto. A problem can re-emerge and can involve tricky power dynamics with others, particularly a partner or family member. There can be concerns or worries that weigh heavily on your mind. Centering yourself is important today, because if you do, you can take advantage of special insights and intuition into new or improved work methods. Now and in the coming weeks, more clarity comes to your love relationships and partnerships with Pluto turning direct after months of retrograde motion. You begin to pursue your hobbies, pleasurable pastimes, partnerships, and romance with more energy and enthusiasm. Today, there can be some tendency to think in extremes. Try not to make decisions based only on perceptions of the day.
The atmosphere around communications can be charged today, dear Leo. You could be feeling the pressure of deadlines or schedules, or there may be problems seeing eye to eye with people you deal with today. A problem that you thought was resolved could re-emerge now. Information can come to you that could have you questioning who and what to believe, feeling pressured, or activating some of your fears. This week brings truly exciting insights into how you can better manage your domestic life and work with Pluto moving direct again as it does every year after its retrograde period. Motivation to pursue a new or previously shelved health program can return. You are feeling on the ball and ready to rise to any challenge. You quickly realize that there are plenty of details that need attention. Nevertheless, today and tomorrow with the shift occurring, thinking can be in extremes.
There could be some mental tension today, dear Virgo, if a problem re-emerges and concerns you. This may be related to a financial or creative matter. Avoid obsessive thinking, but do focus on areas of weakness and find ways to strengthen your life. Power is about managing yourself and your own energy and resources as effectively as you can. With money and relationships, watch for extremes. For many months every year, slow-moving Pluto is retrograde, but is now turning direct after its yearly retrograde period. Enthusiasm is likely to return for intellectual interests, hobbies, learning, and creative projects this week and in coming weeks. New insights into relationships may have been gained during the retrograde phase, but now it’s about applying them. Going forward, you’re ready to make important changes, particularly in attitude. Today during the shift, emotions can be exaggerated or seem overwhelming, but this is simply your way of adjusting to the changes. Save important decision making for another day.
For many months every year, slow-moving Pluto is retrograde, dear Libra. Today and tomorrow, Pluto turns direct, and a sense of moving forward emerges this week. Even so, as the shift occurs now, there might be a little chaos before things truly begin to take off for you in the areas of finances and domestic matters. Relationships with family and family roles are changing, and your determination to resolve challenges is building. It’s not the time to stubbornly hold on to things “as they were”. Rather, it’s time to acknowledge the need to make changes. You are recognizing that letting go of something that you’ve been using as a crutch on some level is really the best thing that could happen to you. Watch today for dwelling or fixating on a topic if it starts to cause you distress.
Pluto is turning direct after its yearly retrograde cycle, dear Scorpio. This is good news for you, as your life becomes clearer, even if today can be a little chaotic. Take care not to jump into action without thinking of the consequences. Take the leap on the inside first and see how it feels before taking action. More clarity is likely to come to your communications, and issues that have been buried or swept under the carpet might emerge now for better handling. Today’s Mercury-Pluto square can bring a topic that you thought had been resolved back to the surface for another look. Watch for controversy and avoid expressing suspicion. Take your time coming to final conclusions, as thoughts and perceptions can be a little extreme right now.
Fears about not having enough money or resources may have been subtly driving your behavior in recent months while Pluto was retrograde in your solar second house, dear Sagittarius. Now as it begins to move forward, slowly but surely, you will be taking charge of your life, even if at times you worry too much. It’s a good time for proving what you are worth in the work you do. You are now recognizing that you have been freeing yourself from past conditioning, automatic behaviors that have not served you well, and relationships that were unhealthy. You are looking forward now and feeling positive about your “new” life. Watch for moodiness today as the shift occurs, particularly with friends or a partner. Recognize that thinking can be in extreme terms just for now. Try to stay out of mind games with others today – it’s simply not your style! People can be pushy with their ideas, expecting you to share the same values, or wanting you to think a certain way.
You can get the distinct feeling that things are changing for the better in the coming days, dear Capricorn, with Pluto moving out of its retrograde. Pluto moving through your sign can be intense at times, and now that Pluto turns direct, a yearly occurrence, you are re less likely to brood over problems and more likely to take charge and make important changes. There can be opportunities to make long-lasting friendships or to make changes to your friendships and group associations that benefit you for some time to come. Income from business might advance and new opportunities can emerge in your career. Today, extremes of thinking are likely, and worries about reputation or career matters could be overblown. Look for ways to improve weak areas that leave you feeling vulnerable. Use today’s tendency to dwell on problem areas and mental intensity in a constructive manner.
Energy is rather intense today, dear Aquarius, with retrograde Mercury in challenging aspect to Pluto. The tendency to dwell on recent hurts or slights is strong. However, with Pluto beginning to move in direct motion, a yearly occurrence, in the coming weeks you’re less likely to brood and more willing (and equipped) to make changes towards improvement. Projects that you have been working on behind the scenes or that you’ve left unfinished might be revived. Repairing relationships with a parent or boss can figure strongly now. You may need to employ some caution with regards to elements from your past, but overall, there is a sense of moving forward and doing so in a positive, growth-oriented way. During the shift today, there could be some frustration or suspicion, and thoughts or communications can be extreme or exaggerated. Avoid allowing fears or insecurities undermine your life now.
With the Moon in your privacy and soul sector, dear Pisces, some reflection is in order. You may crave some extra time alone. As well, slow-moving Pluto is now turning direct after many months of retrograde motion. This yearly occurrence points to some moving forward and a stronger sense of being in charge of your life, particularly related to educational pursuits and friendships or group endeavors. It’s necessary now to tune into your inner rhythms so that you act rather than react during this shift. Today and this week, you’re better able to rely on your intellect and belief systems. Things that you have been uncertain about suddenly become clearer. Friendships may be intense but instead of brooding over problem areas, you’re motivated to make important changes that bring you closer to resolution of long-standing problems. Small changes made now can impact the future in big ways. Watch for extremes in thought and speech today – safeguard relationships from harsh words, even if it’s challenging to make a partner or friend happy now. If you find yourself unable to move past an issue, take a break.
There can be a growing feeling of being on top of work and practical affairs moving forward, dear Aries, with the Sun warming your work and health sector reaching out to Ceres in your career sector. Ceres has just recently turned direct in this house of your solar chart, and Pluto will do the same in only a week. These influences can point to forward motion in a career-related matter or project. One-to-one relationships are also in strong focus today, and you’re looking to create a stronger sense of equality with a partner or special friend. A fortunate connection might be made now.
Issues of equality and fairness can emerge on the job now, and in some respects, in the coming weeks, dear Taurus. You could find yourself in the position of mediator. In your relationships, a sense of adventure is building, and you could find that you bond more deeply with a special person by sharing activities, or even ideas, beyond the routine or ordinary. There can be a growing sense of excitement about what you might do in the near future. You might feel “on the same page” with, or approval from, a lover or significant friend, particularly about creative visions, personal philosophies, and happiness goals.
Now or in the coming weeks, you may see an intimate relationship move forward, or support, financial or otherwise, coming through, dear Gemini. Today is strong for strength in family or in relationships with people who are “like family” to you as well. Exchanges in close relationships are helpful and rewarding. When it comes to romantic relationships, you can be more invested in fairness, harmony, and cooperation, and also more sensitive to imbalances if there are any. You may be working on a creative project or reviving an old hobby, and feeling empowered as you do. Today is strong for organizing or reorganizing an area of your life.
Faith in a relationship or partner can be increasing now, dear Cancer, and this can be strengthening. There can be a nice theme of support in primary relationships, and for some of you, a newfound interest or studies can be pleasantly absorbing. This is also a good time for renewed interest in an old subject or project, and for brushing up your knowledge. A partner may provide valuable feedback, and there is creativity and fertility in your exchanges now. You can be especially sensitive to imbalances in your home life now, whether they are about family dynamics or atmosphere and environment of the home. This is pronounced today, but is also a theme in coming weeks. Matters of comfort, security, and harmony in your domestic life are in strong focus.
Work projects and/or health or fitness programs can begin to move forward, dear Leo, and motivation to get back on track is increasing. Today is strong for feeling effective, engaged, and in control. When it comes to learning and communicating, you can be a little more sensitive to imbalances, people with pushy opinions, and lack of harmony with peers. However, this is a strong period for catching up with acquaintances or siblings, refreshing your knowledge of a subject, and rekindling an interest in topics or projects that you’ve set aside for whatever reason in the past. Research can bring nice rewards now, and you may stumble upon old books, files, materials, and other treasures from the past that deserve a second look.
Signs that a creative project, or romance for some of you, is moving forward can be with you now, dear Virgo. You might experience a renewed interest in a hobby or creative pursuit that leaves you feeling especially engaged and motivated. The need to create or to express yourself in your unique way can fill you with a stronger feeling of purpose. Today, and in many ways the coming weeks, you have a strong desire to take charge of money and business matters that you’ve let slide or didn’t have the time for. You are especially sensitive to imbalances now, and you may come to the conclusion that feeling on top of your practical affairs will improve your mood in general. This is a good time to go through past records and receipts and reorganize. You may discover hidden resources or find lost items in the process.
You could be feeling an increased desire to work on home projects or to bond with family now with Ceres direct in your solar fourth house, dear Libra, and in just a week’s time, Pluto moving direct here as well. Projects or endeavors on the domestic front that you may have lost some interest in or that stalled can now pick up steam again. A nesting urge is strong and growing. Today, you take more pride in your relationships but also your ability to take the lead. A desire to reinvent yourself in some way is with you, and this is only set to increase. You may be paying more attention to your manner, appearance, or image now and in the coming weeks. You can be especially sensitive to any hint that you are not valued for your individuality and who you are (rather than what you do).
This is a strong day for guiding and supporting friends, dear Scorpio, or for receiving a nice boost from others. Ideas generated now are particularly fertile and creative, but it’s the process of exchange that is most interesting to you now. Today and in the coming weeks, you could find that you’re rekindling an interest in old projects, topics, and mental interests, and this can really get you up in the morning, so to speak. Follow-through may be a question at the moment, simply because there is part of you that feels in limbo or at crossroads. In the next while, you may be especially productive in activities behind the scenes, and you may seek out some silence or time to yourself in order to do your work. The Moon is in your sign up until the last hour of the day, and emotions are heightened.
Business and money matters are beginning to move forward, dear Sagittarius, and you’re likely to be feeling more and more effective when it comes to practical affairs. You’re also being recognized for your usefulness, and this motivates you to guide, help, and support even further. There can be a building desire to nurture and grow a business, project, or even an idea. This will be even more apparent after Pluto’s direct station a week from now. Today, you can be especially invested in your friendships and sensitive to any power dynamics that seem to be off. This can continue on some level for several weeks, but you can turn this into a big positive by paying special attention to building peace and harmony with friends and associates. It’s a good time to follow up on your connections and reconnect with people from your past.
With Ceres in your sign now in direct motion, dear Capricorn, you might find that you’re more frequently attracting attention from others, and that you have increased personal presence. You are projecting an especially wise or nurturing quality, and others can be drawn to you looking for guidance or support. Next week, Pluto in your sign turns direct as well, reinforcing a feeling that you’re moving forward. You could be reconnecting with people from your past in the weeks ahead. Today, you are taking special pride in your ability to handle your responsibilities and obligations. You can be especially sensitive to imbalances of power with a boss, parent, or other authority figure, but fortunately, others are tending to recognize you as a leader.
You could be feeling a little sensitive today, finding it difficult to detach yourself from frustrating opinions expressed by others, dear Aquarius. However, you’re also in a strong position for learning and you are likely to be reconnecting with topics, ideas, and studies that you enjoyed in the past. This can be exciting and motivating. Going back over materials in order to strengthen your understanding of an area of interest, study, or work can be especially rewarding and effective now. You’ll find that your ability to recall and absorb information is strong in the weeks ahead. Intuition is strong today, serving you exceptionally well.
You are likely to feel increasing motivation to draw up plans for the future, share ideas with others, and connect with friends now and this week, dear Pisces, and this can lead to a stronger feeling of purpose and meaningfulness. Projects that have stalled or that were shelved can move forward or seem more doable now. Today is strong for research of virtually any kind, but it’s also a good day for your social life and close relationships. People in your life seem to be supportive, or at the very least, they give you space to do your own things.
Explanation: New high resolution images of Pluto are starting to arrive from the outer Solar System. The robotic New Horizons spacecraft, which zoomed by Pluto in July, has finished sending back some needed engineering data and is now transmitting selections from its tremendous storehouse of images of Pluto and its moons. The featured image, a digital composite, details a surprising terrain filled with craters, plains, landscape of unknown character, and landforms that resemble something on Earth but are quite unexpected on Pluto. The light area sprawling across the upper right has been dubbed Sputnik Planum and is being studied for its unusual smoothness, while the dark cratered area just under the spacecraft is known as Cthulhu Regio. So far, New Horizons has only shared a few percent of the images and data it took during its Pluto flyby, but will continue to send back new views of the dwarf planet even as it glides outward toward even more distant explorations.
We may appear easygoing at first but strong convictions override our desire for a lighthearted conversation with everyone we meet. The interactive Gemini Moon enables us to flirt with more meaningful issues without necessarily becoming emotionally involved. However, the willful Sun forms a free-flowing trine with unrelenting Pluto, driving our feelings into the eye of any hurricane in the vicinity. Clever words give way to passionate encounters.
Mar 21 – Apr 19
Nothing is more important to you today than living up to other people’s expectations and you might even become obsessive about doing the right thing. Your drive to finish what you start is probably much stronger than your need to be distracted. You understand that you have no other option but to take care of unfinished business before you run out of time. There are deadlines to meet and your reputation is at stake; it’s now or never.
Apr 20 – May 20
Your emotional steadiness goes beyond a textbook description of a stubborn Bull. Romantic concerns that might normally be upsetting are taken in stride today because you believe you can safely say what’s on your mind. However, you might have a sneaky suspicion that no one is listening to you. But don’t rock the boat just to see if anyone is paying attention. Waiting for the right moment to have a rational discussion is less stressful for everyone involved and more effective in the long run.
May 21 – Jun 20
You’re confident you can communicate your ideas easily today, and you expect others to be charmed by your charisma. Although you may be poised to swing into action before you have all the details in place, your cavalier attitude clashes with a more contemplative side of your personality that comes to the forefront now. Assimilate your careful analysis into your strategy, for it helps you hit your target with even more accuracy. Practice makes perfect.
Jun 21 – Jul 22
Your brain may win out over your heart in an internal struggle between logic and emotions. But it isn’t wise to overreact to a situation before you allow sufficient time to process your feelings. It makes good sense to override a strong attraction that will only add drama to your life as long as you don’t just shut down prematurely out of fear. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do is to take care of yourself.
Jul 23 – Aug 22
It could seem as if you have reached the end of the road and that summer is already over, even though it’s not. However, your anticipation of the future heightens your sense of urgency today as the Moon highlights your 11th House of Hopes and Wishes. You might try to squeeze so much into your schedule that you don’t have time to enjoy any of it. Nevertheless, a more deliberate approach works if you stop and set priorities early in the day. Oddly enough, slowing down enables you to accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible.
Aug 23 – Sep 22
You may be locked in an endless debate that has no clear winner as passionate Pluto aligns with the practical Virgo Sun today. Your words sound overly emotional, even if that’s not how you feel. Although you might keep your vulnerability a secret for now, the truth will probably leak out soon enough, anyhow. Take control by shifting the conversation from a confrontational argument into an opportunity to share your passions. No one can find fault with your words as long as you communicate in a respectful manner.
Sep 23 – Oct 22
You wish you could lean on others now, but everyone seems to be on their own edge of change and therefore somewhat unavailable. Meanwhile, you can find balance as long as you keep your worries to yourself. Unfortunately, you may be living under an illusion based upon what you don’t want to know. Nevertheless, it’s easier to simply take care of a problem by responding quickly than it is to wait and see what will happen next if you leave things alone. Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.
Oct 23 – Nov 21
Don’t quit now just because you’re feeling overwhelmed. Have faith that you can get through all your assignments if you simply focus on one task at a time. However, all kinds of distractions pull you away from your mundane commitments. Fortunately, the Sun’s trine to persistent Pluto blesses you with the ability to maintain your concentration, no matter what. You can reach your desired destination if you put your mind to it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Nov 22 – Dec 21
Although your enthusiastic nature can often move mountains, optimism alone isn’t enough to prepare you for the big changes ahead. Don’t try to fake competence or you could find yourself in over your head before you know it. You must clearly demonstrate your competence before you ask others to accept you as their leader. Your passion is inspirational but all talk and no action won’t get you very far today. Lead by example and not by command.
Dec 22 – Jan 19
There’s so much uncontrollable energy floating around in the atmosphere today that you might not be able to suppress your current anxiety. However, you won’t find peace of mind by trying to run the entire show. Being in touch with your feelings isn’t necessarily a problem, especially if it motivates you to exert your authority over those parts of your life that are within your sphere of influence. But don’t fight an unwinnable battle; knowing when to let go can turn potential frustration into surprising satisfaction.
Jan 20 – Feb 18
If there are lingering questions from a close friend or partner hanging between you, respond to them as fast as possible because your window of opportunity is closing quickly now. Instead of secretively manipulating the pieces of the puzzle, bring any remaining concerns out in the open while you can. Once all your cards are on the table today, it will be much easier to talk about what is wrong and discuss a variety of possible solutions. Clearing the air is the kindest thing you can do for all parties involved.
Feb 19 – Mar 20
Stand up and say what’s on your mind today because your words carry the intensity of the conviction of your beliefs. Go the extra mile to be completely honest with your friends while the Sun harmonizes with profound Pluto in your 11th House of Social Networking. Just be certain you’re making sense when you share your feelings, since you could be extremely passionate about a relationship issue now. Aim your thoughts carefully and don’t stray from your truth. Claim your power while you have the chance.
Explanation: Pluto is more colorful than we can see. Color data and images of our Solar System’s most famous dwarf planet, taken by the robotic New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby in July, have been digitally combined to give an enhanced view of this ancient world sporting an unexpectedly young surface. The featured enhanced color image is not only esthetically pretty but scientifically useful, making surface regions of differing chemical composition visually distinct. For example, the light-colored heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio on the lower right is clearly shown here to be divisible into two regions that are geologically different, with the leftmost lobe Sputnik Planum also appearing unusually smooth. New Horizons now continues on beyond Pluto, will continue to beam back more images and data, and will soon be directed to change course so that it can fly past asteroid 2014 MU69 in 2019 January.
Explanation: New Horizons has survived its close encounter with Pluto and has resumed sending back images and data. The robotic spacecraft reported back on time, with all systems working, and with the expected volume of data stored. Featured here is the highest resolution image of Pluto taken before closest approach, an image that really brings Pluto into a satisfying focus. At first glance, Pluto is reddish and has several craters. Toward the image bottom is a surprisingly featureless light-covered region that resembles an iconic heart, and mountainous terrain appears on the lower right. This image, however, is only the beginning. As more images and data pour in today, during the coming week, and over the next year, humanity’s understanding of Pluto and its moons will likely become revolutionized.
Explanation: Will the New Horizons spacecraft survive its closest approach to Pluto and return useful images and data? Humanity will know in a few hours. Regardless of how well it functions, New Horizon’s rapid speed will take it whizzing past Pluto and its moons today, with the time of closest approach being at 11:50 UT (7:50 am EDT). To better take images and data, though, the robotic spacecraft was preprogrammed and taken intentionally out of contact with the Earth until about 1:00 am UT July 15, which corresponds to about 9:00 pm EDT on July 14. Therefore, much of mankind will be holding its breath through this day, hoping that the piano-sized spacecraft communicates again with ground stations on Earth. Hopefully, at that time, New Horizons will begin beaming back new and enlightening data about a world that has remained remote and mysterious since its discovery 85 years ago. Featured above is a New Horizons composite image of the moon Charon (left) and Pluto (right) taken 3 days ago, already showing both worlds in unprecedented detail.