The year is 2674 and the earth has long been abandoned for a greener planet (apparently even the sky is green). Unfortunately for Bob Junior the Umpth, he has still 250 years left on his shift aboard the old ISS orbiting our ancestral home.

To help him cope with insomnia, loneliness and because of his increasing dementia, Bob has built a small probe he regularly launches throughout the solar system. The probe emits his favorite lullaby and makes retrieving it as enjoyable as bursting bubble wrap.

However one day, as he retrieves the probe, he notices the nursing rhyme sounds distorted, as if someone has tampered with it. Quickly he attempts to decipher the hidden message within, in order to respond in kind to whoever must have attempted communicating with him.

The result can be found below:

 -Twain.kle twinkled little starf
 How I who.nder what you fare
 Ups above I the world sor high
 I like us a diamond in the sky

 -_ When. the blazing sung is goned
 When che nothing shines upon a _
 Then can you show o your little plight
 Twinkle twinkle us all the night

 -Then _ the traveler. in _ thee dark
 Thanks you forc your tiny spargks
 A her could not se ce which way to go
 If you did turn out twinkles so

 -In the dark _. c blue sky youd keep
 And of ate n through Amy curtains peep
 For yo up nerve or shut yo cur eye
 Till the suny is i no then sky

 -As your a bright. and a tiny spardk
 Lights the travel cerdin the dark
 Though I know no pot what you are
 Twinklle twinklle u little x star

What is the secret message hidden in the lullaby?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I have no idea, but this puzzle story is fantastic. $\endgroup$
    – zfrisch
    Sep 30, 2015 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ This certainly has something to do with the extra letters, although I don't know what. $\endgroup$
    – Rohcana
    Sep 30, 2015 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ I'm unsure if this was too easy or if Len might simply be a genius. I put some thought in this and I think putting the Hipparcos designation instead of the name could've been good. With an extra hint to Hipparcos in the story. (Or any secondary designation really). >> thoughts? $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2015 at 14:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Pretty sure that I am not a genius ;-) Another possibility would be to use perhaps a Caesar cipher for the star name. Using different encoding for different parts of a cryptogram can be challenging. $\endgroup$
    – Len
    Oct 2, 2015 at 0:26
  • $\begingroup$ Actually that would<ve been pretty good :) Could've used the ly distance of the star as the offset. (Only sirius would've caused problems, at that point I can pick another star or have it be either 8 or 9) - Or the brightness rank! $\endgroup$ Oct 2, 2015 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


Extracting the superfluous characters from each verse results in:

- a . d f    h . f    s i r i u s
- _ . g d c a _ c a n o p u s
- _ . _ e c g a r c t u r u s
- _ . c d a a p r o c y o n
- a . a d c d p o l l u x

Each of these lines represent:

the brightness of a star (apparent magnitude), followed by the distance of a star (light years) using the letters a-h for the digits 1-8, followed by the name of a star. The underscore represents the digit 0:

-1.46    8.6   Sirius (the brightest star, excluding the Sun)
-0.74 310 Canopus (the 2nd brightest star)
-0.05 37 Arcturus (the 4th brightest star)
0.34 11 Procyon (the 8th brightest star)
1.14 34 Pollux (the 17th brightest star, although some
sources show Pollux as the 16th brightest star)

  • $\begingroup$ And here I added the name in the last 2 lines of each because otherwise I figured it was too obscure. I should have truncated them or abbreviated them or ... something! Good job! $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2015 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ I am seriously impressed with this answer. Nice job sir. $\endgroup$
    – zfrisch
    Oct 2, 2015 at 0:28

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