Orbital Nexus meta

by Thomas Snyder and Meta Group A

In this round, each of eight moons has four puzzle versions. The different versions of each puzzle are not radically different from each other, and instead have a branching point that leads to four thematically-linked but different answers from the same solving process. In this meta, the goal is to observe a planetary system of moons and to make use of the revolution and rotation information to extract letters from the answer words for each moon as described below.

The round is presented using the form in the Orrery applet. The applet itself, allowing control of time, is unlocked after solving several puzzles (including all quarters of one puzzle). Using the applet, solvers can isolate the revolution and rotation data for each moon. The moons have (10*prime) minutes for their revolutions with increasing periods as the moons get farther from the planet. The moons collectively have three different rotational periods, tied to their answer length (n-1)*10 minutes for each quarter, 4*(n-1)*10 minutes overall. In the order they are unlocked (outermost to innermost), here is all the data for each moon:

 Name of moon Revolution time Rotation time Harvest 190 4 x 100 Paper 170 4 x 100 Keith 130 4 x 100 Warren 110 4 x 60 Sailor 70 4 x 60 Neutral 50 4 x 60 Blue 30 4 x 20 Bad 20 4 x 20

The space to the bottom of the planet is shaded in the applet suggesting that this region is important for the ECLIPSE! states suggested on the Moon Counter board game component. Indeed, every time a moon is directly beneath the planet, it disappears in the applet. Seeing eight ECLIPSE! boxes in a row on the card, one may wonder if all of the moons are ever in syzygy (zyzzygy?) with each other. Using data from the applet and the Chinese Remainder Theorem (or other brute force methods), solvers can find the first "total" eclipse point at t=525790. Each successive total eclipse point will be 96996900 minutes away so the next three eclipse points are at 97522690, 194519590, 291516490 respectively.

Identifying these times is half of the challenge of the meta; the rest involves figuring out how the answer words fit in. Once solvers have multiple answer words for each moon, they should observe that the last letters of each answer matches the first letter of the adjoining quarter's answer.

 HEAD FRENCH FISCAL LAST Bad Moon PBM MIA ARG GOP Blue Moon TOO OUR RYE EAT Neutral Moon ARSENIC CALCIUM MYLANTA AMMONIA Sailor Moon ABILENE EVERETT TORONTO OKINAWA Warren Moon STEWART TREVINO ORANTES SYMONDS Keith Moon LINEDANCING GOSPELSONGS SLIDEGUITAR ROCKANDROLL Paper Moon DAVEGIBBONS SHANIATWAIN NICOLASCAGE ENIDBAGNOLD Harvest Moon SONOGRAPHER RADIOLOGIST TASTETESTER RESEARCHERS
Therefore, instead of 4x3 or 4x7 or 4x11 total letters in the answers, one can form a cycle of 8, 24, or 40 letters total which exactly match the time to complete a rotation through all four quarters (80, 240, or 400 minutes). If you imagine these words written on quarters of the moon like slices of an orange, then there is always a letter that is pointing directly at the planet which can be taken. At the Cusp of two quarters, this letter is the shared letter between two phases. Ten minutes later, it will be the second letter in the answer word for that quarter. At the "peak" point, it will be the center letter for that answer word.

As an example, take ABILENEVERETTORONTOKINAW. ABILENE is the Head Quarter answer. So, if the current time is cusp Head/Last, you would take the A (shared with the Last answer OKINAWA). Ten minutes later, after the answer rotates, B would now be the letter. Ten minutes later, I. Ten minutes later, at "peak" Head Quarter, the letter is L. Thirty minutes later, at cusp of Head/French, the letter is E, shared with the first letter of EVERETT, the French Quarter answer.

Using the applet at the first eclipse point, solvers can figure out the appropriate letters at that time reading from inner to outer moons. At t=525790, this will give the message ITSTWEEN. However, as clued on the Moon Counter, there are four relevant eclipse points (after which the message will repeat itself). Going to those times completes the message as: IT'S 'TWEEN ROMEO AND ORLANDO'S BELOVEDS. This message clues Juliet and Rosalind, respectively, from Shakespeare. Around the planet Uranus, the moons are named after female characters from Shakespearean plays. Between Juliet and Rosalind sits exactly one moon, which is Leah's location, PORTIA.

Moon Eclipse 1 Eclipse 2 Eclipse 3 Eclipse 4
Blue TOOURYEA TOOURYEA TOOURYEA TOOURYEA
Neutral ARSENICALCIUMYLANTAMMONI ARSENICALCIUMYLANTAMMONI ARSENICALCIUMYLANTAMMONI ARSENICALCIUMYLANTAMMONI
Sailor ABILENEVERETTORONTOKINAW ABILENEVERETTORONTOKINAW ABILENEVERETTORONTOKINAW ABILENEVERETTORONTOKINAW
Warren STEWARTREVINORANTESYMOND STEWARTREVINORANTESYMOND STEWARTREVINORANTESYMOND STEWARTREVINORANTESYMOND
Keith LINEDANCINGOSPELSONGSLIDEGUITAROCKANDROL LINEDANCINGOSPELSONGSLIDEGUITAROCKANDROL LINEDANCINGOSPELSONGSLIDEGUITAROCKANDROL LINEDANCINGOSPELSONGSLIDEGUITAROCKANDROL
Paper DAVEGIBBONSHANIATWAINICOLASCAGENIDBAGNOL DAVEGIBBONSHANIATWAINICOLASCAGENIDBAGNOL DAVEGIBBONSHANIATWAINICOLASCAGENIDBAGNOL DAVEGIBBONSHANIATWAINICOLASCAGENIDBAGNOL