The Sciences

If I watch this I hope the Moon *will* hit the Earth

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJun 15, 2009 11:25 AM


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I heard rumors about this a while ago, but now a trailer is out for it: "Impact", a science fiction mini-series that'll air on ABC next week (starting June 21). On the plus side, it stars Natasha Henstridge, who I think is pretty cool (I loved the first season of "She Spies"). On the minus side is every other single thing about this show. Here, suffer through this first. I know, we're all a little bit dumber for having watched that. The Bad Astronomy is strong with this one. A meteor shower that blasts the Moon is not totally implausible, but one that blows off chunks like that? I don't think an asteroid big enough to do that would be hidden behind other smaller ones, which is fairly firmly in the "duh" category. And they're not meteors! They're just asteroids; meteors are when they are burning up in Earth's atmosphere. But then it totally goes off the rails. Brown dwarf chunks? Uh, what? A brown dwarf is a mega-planet, an object just barely too small to be a star but much more massive than Jupiter. "A chunk of brown dwarf" makes as much sense as saying a chunk of Saturn's atmosphere. And it takes a LOT of energy to move the Moon appreciably from its orbit. Anything massive enough to do that would vaporize or at least seriously damage the Moon upon impact. Yet we see it later in the trailer looking exactly the same as now (and with the same face pointed toward us, which is wrong too). Don't even get me started on the electromagnetic effects. Erf. The verdict: if I have time, I'll watch it, but I expect this to set a new nadir for astronomically-based TV that previously was occupied by the likes of "Doomsday Rock". But just to be safe, I'll put my brain in a jar and bury it in the back yard first. No need to damage it any further after that trailer.

Tip o' the air sickness bag -- which I'll need -- to io9.

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