Thursday, August 19, 2010

Remembering Mac On his Birthday

"I won't rest until Kansas City declares Aug. 20
'Mac Tonnies Day.'"

- Mac Tonnies, via his comment on a PHB post 8/20/07

I am technically still on hiatus and will likely to be for some time, but I couldn't let Mac's birthday go by without posting something. I found the photo above in "the vault", specifically in an email from Mac dated February 2008. It's a quirky shot, but seemed somehow fitting here.

In trying to find a direction for this post, however, I was pretty much at a loss, till I suddenly had the hunch to Google "August 20, 1975", the day Mac was born, to see what else occurred on that exact day. Only one major event was listed but it was a doozy...

"Viking: Trailblazer for All Mars Research

On Aug. 20, 1975, after years of painstaking work, Viking 1 perched atop its gleaming rocket and was launched into history. Just one month later, Viking 2 followed its twin. Both arrived at their destinations in the summer of 1976, America's bicentennial year.

As Viking 1 eased into its orbit, an onboard camera began scanning potential landing sites.

Beamed back to Earth, the images were studied by Martin and his team. A favorable location was chosen -- near ancient outflow channels in a low plain known as Chryse Planitia."

(Photo Caption:The Viking 1 spacecraft was launched by a Titan/Centaur rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:22 p.m. Aug. 20, 1975. It ended its 500 million-mile journey 11 months later, landing on Mars on July 20, 1976. Credit: NASA)

But, it gets better. Because on July 25th, 1976, Viking 1 snapped perhaps one of the most infamous Martian photos ever taken - you guessed it: The Face on Mars!

If this was the entire synchronicity, it'd be fairly amazing... but strangely enough, something new began brewing in the online community several days ago that makes this discovery even more interesting. Over at Macbots, Sarah Multiverse announced that Shepherd Johnson has come up with the master-stroke of nominating Mac Tonnies' name for a potential Martian crater!

I've taken the liberty of looking over the procedure at the IAU's (International Astronomical Union) Gazatteer of Planetary Nomenclature, and, from what I gather from their Rules and Conventions page, and finally, from their Categories page, admittedly, it looks like a long shot. But, perhaps, with a little ingenuity, an actual dedicated web-site to the cause, and a great deal less apathy than is currently in evidence in cyber-space, there may someday be a place on Mars named Mac Tonnies... and really, I don't think anything would have thrilled him more.

Kate Sherrod has written one of her wonderful sonnets about it which can be found here.

Oh, by the way, on this day in 1890, H. P. Lovecraft was born. And, lest I forget, August 20 (in the Gregorian calendar) just happens to be the 232nd day of the year! Now, what is it about that number...?!

Below: A detail of the first NASA photograph of the Martian surface taken by Viking 1. Full photo here.


  1. Did he know this? He has to have known this. How completely and utterly marvelous!

    I was hoping to see something here today. Miss him every day, but today is especially poignant.

    Thinking of you and all of Mac's friends.

  2. Hi Kate! I'm glad you dropped by.

    In answer to your question, I just checked PHB and yes, Mac did know of the synchronicity... (and I'm sure we're all glad of that)!

    He never mentioned it to me personally (that I remember), but I was reading his blog by that time, so I should've noticed it - it must've just lodged itself into my unconscious brain and emerged only now.

    Here's the PHB link:

    Best to you,

  3. Dia, thank you for posting - what a wonderful coincidence (Viking)!

  4. Coincidence?! I don't think so! ;-)

    Incidentally, K., I'm so very glad to see you back online - you had me worried there for awhile!

    BTW, have the tiny alien head-stone in the tiny Starry Road turquoise bowl sitting right in front of me by the computer - such pretty gems! They remind me to "keep looking up"!