Chamaeleon: A Rogue Planet

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You don’t really think of the early Seventeenth Century and connect it to a multi national corporation. Well, I don’t, and I find myself thinking of the early Seventeenth Century quite a lot!

However, back in the day, there were one or two multi national corporations in existence. The British had the East India Trading Company, and the Dutch had VOC, Verenigde Oost-indische Compagnie or the Dutch East India Trading Company.

They were initially set up to develop trade links with the various countries over in Asia, but as time went on they became also involved in controlling and developing the lands.

The Dutch East India Trading Company had conquered Ceylon by 1640 and in 1641 they took Malacca (now part of Malaysia) from the Portuguese. They founded Cape Town in South Africa in 1652, and set up major trade routes linking all three places with Amsterdam.

The Dutch East India Trading Company was founded in 1602, and is considered to be the first multi national corporation. Obviously, back then, everything was new to the Europeans. They needed to know where they were going, and how to get back.

They needed maps.

One of the founders of VOC, Pieter Platevoet (Peter Flatfoot), was a cartographer. He was also a clergyman and an astronomer; and he also went by the Latin name of Petrus Plancius. He created more than a hundred maps for VOC, maps of the lands and seas that is.

Being an astronomer, he also created maps of the skies as well. Maps of the constellations, to be precise. In 1598, using information obtained by other astronomers and travellers, he created a globe featuring twelve new constellations in the southern sky. He was literally ‘filling in the blanks’, creating brand new constellations as these had never been mapped before. Coincidentally, one of them always seems to find its way into my line of sight, so to speak: Phoenix. And another one, which opened up this whole new voyage of discovery for me was Chamaeleon. Most of these ‘new’ constellations were named after animals, others added include Pavo the Peacock, Tucana the Toucan, and Volans the Flying Fish.

The constellation Chamaeleon (Cha for short!) contains four bright stars, named Alpha Chamaeleontis, Beta Chamaeleontis, Gamma Chamaeleontis and Delta Chamaeleontis. And inside this constellation, there is a rather fascinating object. A rogue planet, a planet without a star to orbit, a planemo (planetary mass object). This planemo has the name Cha 110913-773444, is considerably larger than Jupiter and has a dust cloud around it, which could be the early stages of a formation of a moon. It’s believed that life can’t exist there as there’s no light, but as it’s a rogue planet, travelling through the constellation there’s nothing to say that it won’t get caught by another star’s gravitational pull one day, and start to orbit that star. Well, I like happy endings.

Pieter Platevoet died in 1622, twenty years before the time that I’m inexplicably drawn to. Although I’m no closer to finding out what pulls me back to the year 1642, every now and then something will come along, a random coincidence, a sign, a name or a prompt which helps me to find a further snippet of information… a snippet that may help me to fill in my blanks. Or at least provide another piece to my jigsaw, another aspect in my ongoing quest.

This post is in response to Sideview’s weekend theme, Chameleon. Follow the link to read other takes on the theme… and I’m now orf to have a cup of cha!

20 comments on “Chamaeleon: A Rogue Planet”

  1. Flatfoot – poor Sod! LoL!!! 🙂

    Still: He was a smart dude and will never be forgotten! 🙂

    Thanks for this one Tom – fascinating!!! 🙂

    God Bless!

    Prenin.

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  2. You bubble over with a wealth of knowledge T….Very interesting. BTW, just wondering….Does the mansion create its own constellations? That would be fun 🙂 Have a good rest of your weekend friend…BTW again, chameleon’s change colors with whatever they are near don’t they? Just a thought for your next lab project….VK

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    1. It wasn’t my knowledge, VK… well, it is now that I know it, but it wasn’t when I was writing it! But it was a very interesting, and enjoyable, research session I did!
      There’s room for a Constellation Room in the Mansion… I wonder if creating them is easy – that’s another thing to explore. And yes, chameleons do change colour… I’ll bear them in mind also!

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  3. What an interesting angle on the theme “Chameleon” 🙂 I enjoyed that…something I didn’t know on the astrononmy front…always delighted to expand my knowledge on that subject! Doesn’t help with brainwaves about your links to the seventeenth century though 😉 But I am working on it!!

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  4. Something about Phoenix, Sir Aquatom ,… rebirth from the ashes… and of course Chameleon… As if just saying the words make you feel changed, otherworldishwise….(Even if you hadn’t come across the words before I mean ) They take on a life, almost an energy of their own… Interesting and informative blog, and …mayhap a step nearer to your quest, for thus were you named Sir Aquatom… What is life without a quest or three on the horizon?… 🙂 xPenx

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    1. Yes, the Phoenix keeps cropping up from time to time with me, Pen. There was a parked trailer by work this morning with the name Phoenix and an image of the bird blazoned down the side. And together, the two do seem to have a link (Phoenix and chameleon that is, not the trailer and work)
      For each piece of information I find, I find at least two more questions. But every step is a step in the right direction methinks!

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  5. Enjoyed the post !! And look you mentioned my “grandmother land” (I’m Ceylonese! and my grandparents – both sets were from there) AND Malaysia! Yup…Malacca still has the Portuguese influence and the Malaccan- Portuguese community as well. Not so much the Dutch..and of course then Britain came and took over the whole country later..hehe

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    1. Back in those days, Shree, I don’t think there’s a place where Britain hadn’t been. For a small island, we spread ourselves pretty much everywhere! I’m glad that I could include your country in one of my posts, Shree!

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