Look who bought Uranus | NevadaAppeal.com

Look who bought Uranus

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer
Helaine Jesse, left, holds a photo of Uranus with her mother Maizie Harris Jesse. Maizie donated $25,000 to Western Nevada Community College's observatory to have her name embossed on the planet Uranus in a solar sytem walkway to the observatory. Helaine Jesse is coordinating the fund-raiser. Photo by Rick Gunn.

It might seem like a tough task to sell Uranus for $25,000. But Helaine Jesse did it by selling the unfortunately named planet to her mother, Maizie Harris Jesse.

“It’s for all my friends and relatives who are pains in the tushie,” Maizie Harris Jesse said. “It’s in their honor.”

To raise money for the observatory at Western Nevada Community College, Helaine Jesse, who is vice president of institutional advancement, is selling each planet in the solar system.

The planets will be lined up according to their order in the solar system to form a walkway between the main campus and the Jack C. Davis Observatory.

“Our plan is when you look down from the observatory, you can see from Mercury to Pluto at the other end,” Helaine Jesse said.

Each planet will have a plaque dedicated to the person or organization who purchased it as well as information about the particular planet.

But some were easier to sell than others — like Venus, which Bill Miller bought for his wife, Virgie.

Helaine Jesse said she was discussing with her mother the unlikelihood of finding anyone interested in buying Uranus when Maizie offered.

“I thought she was kidding,” Helaine said. “I just couldn’t believe it. It was so cool.”

Aside from her jokes to dedicate the planet to all the pains in her “tushie,” Maizie Jesse Harris, who calls herself an amateur astronomer, has sentimental reasons for her purchase.

She visited the Lowell Observatory outside of Flagstaff Arizona about 30 years ago and was allowed to spend three hours observing the heavens.

Although she had wanted to see Jupiter, it was too low. But Uranus was in perfect position.

She was able to watch the planet and see four of its moons.

“It was really something,” she said. “It was very exciting — I had a thoroughly good time.”

She said she is also eager to support bringing an observatory to Carson City.

“I think it will be great fun,” she said. “It will let everyone know that we’re not the only thing in the universe, maybe open some minds to more space exploration.”

Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun and the second largest planet in the solar system — nearly 15 times the mass of Earth. It has five moons and takes 84 years to make one revolution around the sun.

The observatory is in the early stages of construction and is expected to be complete in October.

Helaine Jesse has raised about $725,000 and needs around $225,000 more.

Other planets purchased:

Mercury — Nevada Bell

Venus — Bill and Virgie Miller

Earth — Builders Association of Western Nevada

Mars — Andy Butti

Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto are still available. To purchase a planet, call Helaine Jesse at 445-3240.