The smaller of these successive grainy splodges is Charon. A moon, of sorts (and how tenuous that word grows; orbits within orbits within orbits – for when does a satellite and its parent become a binary system? Two inter-locking planetoids, one revolving not around the other – instead both in motion around a fixed midpoint, like two prizefighters sizing each up other up in the opening round of a title bout).
Not that it would be a fair fight; the mass of parent Pluto is nearly ten times greater than that of Charon. It’s this relative size, along with being discovered forty-five years earlier, that’s seen Pluto possessing the “planet” label – even after reclassification, when the status of planet #9 was downgraded, Charon remains officially one of a trio of moons. However, this doesn’t preclude it from having an intriguing story.
Conventional theory regarding moon formation is based upon both chemical composition and orbital integrity, the analysis of which point to two distinct origins. The shared genesis model – planet and moon forming concurrently from the same coalescing nebula of pre-planetary space sherbet – and outright slavery – some asteroid or planetoid or wandering gimcrack of astral debris becoming ensnared within the gravitational pull of a dramatically bigger body, thus having seeing orbital focus permanently redefined.
There is however a third, more obtuse lunar origin for which calculations suggest account for the Pluto – Charon dynamic. A model based upon the interaction – effectively a collision – between two strands of coalescing pre-planetary sherbet (or protoplanetary discs, to give them their scientific name). A discontextual chemical collusion, forcing together disparate filaments of super-heated dust and super-cooled ice in such a pattern as to trigger conception. A reformatting; less satellite and parent, more the formation of a genetically similar duality.
The only other planet and moon combination that fits this third hypothesis? Well, you’re standing (or sitting, or lying prostrate) on the planet in question; find the moon yourself.
At least once a week I close my eyes, and play a record of perfect synergy with my delusional lunar dreams. From San Francisco by way of New Zealand, this is Tamaryn, a track from 2010 début album The Waves. A grinding sense of beauty; hazy, soft and lush lyrics in orbit around an alluring swash of multi-instrumentation. The reference points are signposted, hints of ubiquity in the Kevin Shields guitar, the Hope Sandoval vocal, but like those strands of coalescing pre-planetary sherbet I’m mentioning with undue frequency, the result is a regal kind of beauty. A heightened sense of landscape ornamentation – ethereal yet caressingly solid.
Tamaryn / Sandstone