We are all about celebrating the Earth in public, and, like Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy, we like Google’s Earth Day doodle. But when we celebrate Earth, we like celebrating Earth, and it turns out that Google has created a weird alternative planet that has a sun, a moon, four seasons, and prairie dogs but could not possibly be Earth.
Plait lays out the reasons. (He admits they are nitpicky.)
1. The moon’s position in the sky doesn’t make sense:
“The first time we see the Moon, it’s a crescent rising in the east at sunset, oriented with the wide part to the left, and the horns of the crescent pointing to the right,” he says.
Here is the problem: “It’s shown as opposite the Sun, rising in the east as the Sun sets in the west, which only happens when the Moon is full.”
2. The moon gets bigger when it should get smaller.
When the moon’s horns point to the right, that’s a moon that’s about poof out and become a new moon. But instead, in Google’s world, it gets bigger.
3. The stars don’t move.
No astrology in this world.
4. You can see through the moon:
Plait says, “But the dark part of the Moon is just unlit landscape; it’s still part of the solid Moon. So when the Moon passes in front of stars, it blocks those stars, and it doesn’t matter if the part blocking it is lit or not. You can’t see the stars through the solid (and very, very opaque) Moon.”
Maybe this is Google’s secret way of telling us it’s discovered another habitable planet? That would be cool, but Earth Day would probably not be the right day to tell Earth we’re planning on breaking up with it. On the other hand, the planet would be so much better off without us, perhaps Earth Day is the perfect occasion to announce an impending exodus of humanity. (File that detail away for your dystopian sci-fi series/screenplay/graphic novel, and consider it our Earth Day gift to you.)
Noodling Google's Doodle, Slate.
Get Grist in your inbox