Crater? I thought he was a star!

By Phil Plait | March 7, 2008 5:00 pm

You know I have a good eye for pareidolia.

This one is the best, ever.

That’s a real feature on Mars, taken by the Mars Global Surveyor. And if you’re clueless what I’m talking about, try here.

As a double inside joke, I almost titled this “M-O-O-N, that spells Mars!” but I figured like three of you would get it.


Comments (40)

  1. ADB

    One of Three, reporting in. >_>

  2. Hrmph, well I get it (the M-O-O-N joke). The Stand happens to be my favorite Stephen King book. Yeah, and Patrick’s okay too, I guess. My 2 year old loves Spongebob.

  3. Lledowyn

    I must be Three of Three, because I get that reference as well. Heck, I even recorded it when it came out on tv. :-p

  4. twinner says: “My 2 year old loves Spongebob.”

    So does my 21 year old (and me, too although I always identify with Squidward).

    – Jack

  5. It’s not just because it’s from The Stand. That wouldn’t make sense. There’s a very specific reason for that joke. Try again!

  6. Yoshi_3up

    Good eye Indeed, BA.

  7. Yoshi_3up

    Good eye Indeed, BA. Still I don’t get the M-O-O-N joke >_>

  8. Koreman

    Great, another face on Mars. Another decade of debunking.

  9. WOW!!! That’s absolutely the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen!!!! Wait…. Was the part in the white square actually part of the surface, or is that just an inset you did for comparison?

  10. Caterina

    Would that be because Tom Cullen and Patrick are the same actor?

    And that is a pretty darned incredile pic.

  11. ABR

    “It’s not just because it’s from The Stand. That wouldn’t make sense. There’s a very specific reason for that joke. Try again!”

    I think some of these commenters may need a *Coach* to get that joke. Or perhaps they need to clean out the mud *dauber* nest from their brains.

  12. Kevin L.

    As a twenty-two year old Spongebob fan, I really have to say that this is the best thing ever.

  13. Nancy A.

    OK, I’m like feeling really stupid here. I’m not getting it. I even googled it, and I’m still not getting it. I loved seeing Patrick Star on Mars, though.

  14. KaiYeves

    I love SpongeBob SquarePants!
    (He shows that the geeky-but-nice guy can always come out on top!)

  15. Chip

    You know Patrick Star might come in handy during your next video lecture. 😀

  16. KC

    Oh. My.

    Another face on Mars :-)

  17. k9_kaos

    The Bad Astronomer said:
    “It’s not just because it’s from The Stand. That wouldn’t make sense. There’s a very specific reason for that joke. Try again!”

    Could it be that Patrick is so stupid that he thinks that M-O-O-N spells Mars?

    I smell another conspiracy… Patrick is really the Messiah come to save the souls of Martians, and NASA is covering it up!

  18. Caterina wins! Bill Faggerbakke does the voice of Patrick and played Tom Cullen in The Stand, who is a bit slow. He always says “M-O-O-N, that spells” and then some random word (until finally he does actually spell Moon that way; Steven King can actually be a fantastic writer; his characters, even in his really bad books, are always incredibly rich and detailed).

    So in this case, it’s a triple pun. :)

  19. Brad

    Somewhere on Mars there is a crater feature that looks exactly like Waldorf, one of the old geezers in the balcony on the Muppet Show. I saw it in Scientific American about two decades ago. If I took a day I could probably find it, I’m sure I still have the magazine. But I have no idea where on Mars it is so finding a more recent image is a needle in a haystack.

  20. Eric

    Watch…. Hoagland is going to start something again.

  21. Is it just me, or does that formation at the bottom of the photo look just like a human breast with a giant nipple in the middle?

  22. defectiverobot

    Actually, I think it looks a bit more like Arthur, from the Marc Brown books (and PBS TV show).

    But then again, I love Patrick, so any excuse to be reminded of him works for me!

  23. defectiverobot

    As for The Stand–first half, excellent; second half, not so much. And yes, it is because what starts out as really good science fiction devolves–without adequate prologue–into a supernatural Revelations-type yarn. It’s like two different people wrote the damn thing.

  24. defectiverobot

    Darned thing, DARNED thing. Sorry, I forget this is a family blog.

  25. defectiverobot

    For the record, BA, it’s really hard to go back and forth between this and Pharyngula and maintain a proper sense of decorum.

  26. Stephen James

    Related, but unrelated. Check out the Daily Dilbert from 8Mar2008.

  27. Tom

    Another one of the 3, checking in.

  28. Back to “The Stand” for a moment, at least the book. About half way through there’s a character with my name (David Roberts) and he’s killed a page and a half later. Means absolutely nothing, but its fun.

  29. Yes, it’s amazing what you can find on Mars.

  30. As a double inside joke, I almost titled this “M-O-O-N, that spells Mars!” but I figured like three of you would get it.

    The Stand totally rules among King’s works. I’m a die hard Apocalyptic Fiction fan and I adore this one. :)

  31. @ Stephen James: I thought of BA when I read this morning’s Dilbert as well. Here’s the link.

  32. Nope, you’re all wrong.






    Here’s what the paredolia in -ME- sees:
    It’s Mars, not Marx, BTW… ;-D

  33. Hahaha, nice one.


    “what a childish thing for an astronomer to add to a blog”

    And the “bitter guy of the day” price is for Astronomer!

    Don’t clap, please, he will get mad.

  34. Trollonomer is back?


  35. Jeffersonian

    I doiled this one as Martin Scorcese.

  36. Scorsese! Good one!
    I waited for the whole page to finish loading (sometimes if I scroll down the page before it finished loading it causes trouble, the loading stops) so I could only see the first 2 text lines and the top of the photo, sans Patrick Star. I saw Groucho from the start!

  37. ShavenYak

    I had never put two and two together about Tom Cullen and Patrick, but once the little voice in my head said “M-O-O-N, that spells Mars” while a picture of Patrick was in my field of view, it dawned on me.

    I just wish I could have those hours of my life back that I spent watching the second half of The Stand. How completely lame that ending was. King should have stopped halfway and let Crichton write an ending – it might have been disjointed, but at least it wouldn’t have been stupid.

  38. JackC

    Crichton?? Write an ending? Chrichton CAN’T write an ending. It is impossible for him – Unless you count “And then, it all went away and everything was back to normal….”

    I think that is his basic plan for AGW/CC as well….


  39. StevoR

    Actually Crater is a constellation. Its called “Crater the Cup” for Apollo’s cup ina Greek myth & is located bordering Hydra, Corvus, Leo,Vitrgo & Sextens in Earth’s skies.

    It’s brightest star is actually Delta Crateris, an orange giant 200 ly off shining at 3.6 mag.

    Alpha Crateris also named Alkes is an ornage giant, 170 odd light years away shining at mag. 4.1.

    Also shining at mag. 4.1 is Gamma Crateris a white star located 85 ly distant and that’s abinary star with a mag.9.6 companion whilst blue-white star Beta Crateris glows at 4.5 mag from 270 ly away.

    Source : ‘Collins Guide to Stars & Planets’, P. 132-3, Ian Ridpath & Wil Tirion.

    So you’ll need dark skies to see it folks…


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