Nazi Propaganda, Ultima Thule and Arrokoth

On January 1, 2019 NASA darling New Horizons made the farthest close approach fly-by of a cosmic object in human history. Tiny 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object far beyond Pluto was dubbed Ultima Thule shortly before the historic encounter. Ancient geographers used the term ultima Thule in reference to distant territory or destination, northernmost region of the habitable world, remotes goals or ideals. Ultima Thule suited the apple of New Horizons eye. Beyond limits of the known world, a fitting moniker until Nazi propaganda compelled Ultima Thule to become Arrokoth.

2014 MU69 – Arrokoth (Sky, in the Powhatan and Algonquian languages)

Long before a Newsweek reporter mentioned Nazi party use of Ultima Thule in reference to a mythical homeland for Aryan people, NASA pondered implication by association, including its legal team in naming 2014 MU69. Ultima Thule was a fine name, but for media buzz over Nazi propaganda I never would have known neo-Nazis and far right extremists claimed it for their cause. Nor would I known a Swedish skinhead band named Ultima Thule attained three top twenty hits in their homeland.

Imperatives to rename Ultima Thule had little to do with common public knowledge of  Nazi propaganda, everything to do with alt-right association and use of Ultima Thule in their cause.

Ultima Thule renamed to avoid Nazi link

5 thoughts on “Nazi Propaganda, Ultima Thule and Arrokoth

  1. prior to the Nazi’s, northern Europe had some fascinating lore and mystical history. Then the Nazi’s appropriated it and all of it has become forbidden territory. The story of (original) Ultima Thule is fascinating and the Nazi’s killed it.

  2. Nazis and other scamps aside … that’s one wonderful and utterly incredible image: “far beyond Pluto” … ye utter gods. The calculations and magnifications and gods alone know wot else:


  3. Nazi party use of Ultima Thule in reference to a mythical homeland for Aryan people

    If we could get all the neo-Nazis to emigrate to a trans-Plutonian asteroid and stay there, I’d say let them call it anything they want.

    Do we have to re-name everything whenever some group of assholes gloms on to it?

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