Thursday, November 30, 2006

An Open Letter to Maria K. Simms

Congratulations on the release of The New American Atlas for the 21st Century – Michelsen Memorial Edition ( It’s hard for me to believe it’s sixteen years since Neil’s death. Our own paths diverged only a couple of years after Neil’s death, as first you, and then I left the NCGR Board, the place where we had briefly walked together.

Neils’ early death so easily could have been much more of a tragedy, but for you, who chose to assume the mantle of keeper of the flame. This new edition shows that you have done so with grace and discernment. This could have just been a slavish reproduction with a new cover. But no: you and Rique Pottenger chose to update it, making the best current calculations available based on equations that Neil didn’t have. Then, in what was the first choice of an astrological ephemeris publisher since the astronomical flak last Summer about the planetary status of Pluto, instead of demoting Pluto to a monthly position, you took the bold stroke of adding Ceres to the main pages while retaining Pluto. What more fitting tribute could there have been to Rique’s mother, Zip Dobyns, who also makes a cameo appearance in the section remembering Neil.

So kudos on the publication!