The Horsehead Nebula’s Plea

Thanks Alex Berg , c. 2006, for this fine post.horsehead nebula

Hey… IAU? International Astronomer’s Union? Can you hear me? It’s me… The Horsehead Nebula… Look I just wanted to ask… Well… Could you please give me a new nickname…. Anything but “Horsehead Nebula.” Please? No? C’mon… I never did anything to you guys… Why do you have to be so cruel? I know I look like a horse. Everyone knows that I look like a horse, so can we please just move on? Stop singing the Mr. Ed theme. I’m not trying to be a jerk or anything… It’s just… well, it’s embarrassing. Nobody calls me Barnard 33 anymore, it’s always Horse Nebula this, Horse Nebula that… I can’t go anywhere without some galaxy neighing at me as I pass by, or asking me if I’m on my way to a stable. It’s really demeaning.

I don’t feel I’m being unreasonable here… I mean, I’ve gone along with this nickname for… Jeez… For about one hundred and eighteen of your earth years now. Over a hundred years. Can’t we just say the joke has run it’s course? I’m tired of the infamy. I used to lead such a quiet life, farming protostars to pass the time and basking in the gentle glow of Sigma Orionis. Now, I can’t get a spare second to myself without some grad student in Mauna Kea or tourist in Griffith Park leering at me, saying “Hey, there’s that horse-shaped thing.” Nobody seems to care about who I am anymore, just how much I look like the profile of a horse. It’s really upsetting, and I can’t help but think that it wouldn’t happen as much if people just called me Barnard 33.

You know what? I’ll compromise. I don’t have to be Barnard 33, I’ll just take any nickname over “Horsehead Nebula.” No, please not that… No, “Turd Nebula” is not a better nickname. No, it isn’t… I… C’mon. Please stop messing with me. I just want a new nickname… I look sort of like a chess piece, so I could be the “Chess Nebula”… No? Well, then how about something dignified like the Eagle Nebula or the Omega Nebula… I know that those ones are taken, but something that sounds majestic like that… No, I don’t think that “Turd Nebula” sounds majestic. Please stop calling me that.

ceramic horse headI can hear you snickering.

Look, guys, why do you have to be such jerks about this? You have to rewrite the textbooks soon anyhow because of Pluto, so why can’t you just add my nickname to the list of changes you’ve gotta make? I’ll do anything… I’ll change my emission spectra. C’mon- I’ll tell you where all the cool pulsars are located. Please? I’ll make as many Herbig-Haro objects for you as you can study- I’ll just crank ’em out… You will change it? Oh great, thank you…. I knew you guys would listen to reason… Wait, what do you mean that the “awesome name” key on your computer is stuck? C’mon, don’t hit the “turd” key, please… Please

Eh… Well, nobody can say I didn’t try. I just can’t win with you guys. I’m going home, but uranusI want you guys to know that my feelings have been hurt. I came here with a reasonable request and you guys not only turned me down, but you mocked me as well with this whole “Turd Nebula” nonsense. I hope you’re happy with yourselves, because I’m really going to have a crappy day because of this… NO…. Eh… I guess I walked right into that one… I’m going home. Oh, by the way, Uranus had wanted to talk to you guys, too, but I think I’ll just let him know not to bother.

Read more about Barnard 33 on Well-known Object is Hard to Find.

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photo credit: By Ken Crawford [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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