Happy sad happy sad happy sad

By Phil Plait | January 19, 2011 2:30 pm

OMFSM this made me laugh out loud in delight!

How adorable is that? It’s called "Orbit Buddy", and was created by DeviantArt user Royaba.

I guess planets are the opposite of astronomers. We don’t like the Moon to be up when we observe because it lights up the sky and washes out all the fainter stuff we’re trying to see. Unless we’re observing the Moon, of course. But either way, we get the same expression on our faces when we see fun stuff though the eyepiece.

[UPDATE: Right after posting this I realized the Moon is orbiting in the wrong direction. But it’s still awfully cute.]

Image credit: Royaba. Tip o’ the dew shield to thornae.

MORE ABOUT: DeviantArt, Royaba

Comments (51)

  1. JR

    It would be cool if the little moon was tidaly locked…(sp?)

  2. So frakkin’ cute. I love how his right eye tracks the moon independently of his left eye.

  3. JohnG

    It’s also not tidally locked.

  4. Wayne on the Plains

    Well, if you ignore the fixed stars in the background, it works from a perspective rotating with the Earth. After all, the Earth’s daily motion is much faster than the Moon’s orbit, and the features on the Earth are fixed relative to the face.

    PS. It makes me smile in any case.

  5. Wayne (3): I thought of that as well but the stars do mess that hypothesis up. :)

  6. Chief

    Great, now I’m stuck on “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song stuck in my head from your heading.

    I’m glad it is not to scale as the earth would be very unhappy from the tidal effects.

  7. I love the way the left eye moves slightly later than the right eye.

  8. Liz

    This is SO cute!! It made my bad day turn completely around!

  9. MHS

    Also, the Earth has a face.

    But still very cute :).

  10. My daughter uses DeviantArt like others use Facebook. I’ll have to make sure to point her at this one. :)

  11. alfaniner

    I was going to comment about the Moon not rotating but the first two posts caught that right away. However, I did not know that “tidally locked” meant this. I learned something today!

  12. Mike Y.

    “We don’t like the Moon to be up when we observe because it lights up the sky and washes out all the fainter stuff we’re trying to see. Unless we’re observing the Moon, of course. ”

    Or at 2 microns. It’s nice not having to compete for dark time.

  13. BJN

    Do ships fall into the mouth as they round the Cape of Good Hope?

    Gawd do I hate frenetic gif animation loops. Especially the cute ones.

  14. Royaba

    Wow, I never expected to find this here. Made my day to read your comments about how scientifically inaccurate it is! I knew I liked this site for a reason.

  15. Robert E

    #12: Only when the mouth is open.

  16. But, looking at the lighting, the Moon is obviously up in the day! That makes this astronomer happy.

  17. Brilliant! And SO cute. ^__^

  18. John Paradox

    Maybe the ‘sad’ is because the Moon is orbiting the wrong way?


  19. Mike G

    Phil, the moon is “orbiting” the Earth in the correct direction, from the perspective of a geosynchronous satellite (which seems appropriate since the earth isn’t rotating in the image). In other words, it’s earth rotation you’re seeing, not the moon’s orbit. The moon rises in the East and sets in the West, just like the sun, only some 50-odd minutes later each day.

  20. Nija

    Horizontally mirrored :: http://img638.imageshack.us/img638/319/1915592vlgr3dk6.gif

    The moon doesn’t always have the same side facing the earth.

  21. The animation’s pretty funny, but the comments dissecting its scientific inaccuracy are even better!

  22. Unaspammer

    #20 Except that the moon is outside of geosynchronous orbit, so a geosynchronous satellite would not see the moon pass in between itself and the Earth.

    And as long as we’re complaining about details, I can’t believe that nobody has yet pointed out that the moon is incorrectly depicted as being in LEO.

  23. Unaspammer

    Oh, and if the movement were due to the earth’s rotation, then we should also be seeing sidereal movement in the image.

  24. Chief

    The earth is tilted on the axis 24 or so degrees? is the moon also angled, ie rotating on the plane of the equator or is it in the suns orientation.

  25. Pete Jackson

    Does this set a record for the amount of Bad Astronomy in one image?:

    1) Moon not tidally locked with one side facing Earth (that’s why the Earth is happy, it can see the entire Moon for the first time).
    2) Stars not gliding behind the Earth as it moves in its orbit (observer is apparently somewhere near the L1 point, explaining the lack of eclipse phenomena).
    3) Earth not rotating and clouds not changing and seasons not changing and south and northern polar regions not coming alternatively into view.
    4) Moon too close to Earth compared to the diameters of the Earth and Moon.

  26. breadbox

    5) The Earth has a face.

  27. It really annoys me the 75% of animations have the moon orbiting the wrong way and more than half of them have the Earth rotating the wrong way as well.

  28. Jesso

    Breadbox, I think you just won this thread.

  29. Donnie B.


    Neither, actually. The Moon’s orbit is tilted about 6 degrees from the Earth’s equatorial plane. That means that at various times, the Moon may be anything up to around 30 degrees from the ecliptic plane (or less, of course).

  30. Carey

    In other news, the revolution in Tunisia was called off due to eyebrow.

  31. Theramansi

    Watch out for those reoccurring right eyebrow tsunamis!

  32. Denver7M

    Proportion is everything. Think of it this way, if the Earth were 0.88″ in diameter, that would make the Moon about 0.24″ in diameter. At that scale, the distance between the two would be over 2 feet. So the little animation, although fun, is really wrong on that score :o)

  33. Trucker Doug

    I keep wanting to tell the Earth “Don’t worry! He’ll be right back!”

  34. The rotation is correct. Since the Earth rotates faster than the moon, the moon appears to rise in the east, as shown here. obviously the pov camera is rotating around the earth once every 24 hours as well.

  35. Astro Ash!!

    That is so cute!!! Love it!!!!

  36. Jim Ernst

    It sure looks like a communication problem. O’Reilly was wrong!

  37. I’m more reminded of that old meme about goldfish and their memory: “Oh look, a plastic castle! Oh look, a plastic castle! Oh look, a plastic castle! Oh look, a plastic castle!”

  38. IoEuro

    Call me stupid, but the moon is moving east to west, right? Which I believe is correct. (I recognize the other aforementioned errors.)

  39. Earth has terrible short term memory.

  40. Ion

    Right after posting this I realized the Moon is orbiting in the wrong direction.

    Fixed that for you.


  41. Joe

    Erm, this looks like a scene from Family Guy, where Brian was demonstrating that Peter was fat. He tossed the television in orbit around Peter (he is *that* heavy) and as the television went around, he laughed as it he was watching the program, then was sad when it went behind him.

  42. Number 6

    Does this animation depict the commonly-used word — EarthWatch?

  43. Minos

    @Ion: Figures there’s a website for that. I just got done reversing it by hand.

  44. Cz-David

    If you focus your eyes somewhere else, so that you dont see the change in brightness when the moon is infront or behind the planet. You can make it rotate in any direction… just like the spinning dancer.

  45. [UPDATE: Right after posting this I realized the Moon is orbiting in the wrong direction. But it’s still awfully cute.]

    Funny, that was the first thing I noticed when I saw this. Then again, maybe this is some alternate universe where the Moon orbits retrograde (and where the Earth has a face). Also, tidal effects would drag the Moon closer and closer, just like how it’s very close in the animation…I guess that means either the Moon will soon break up into a ring or just impact the poor Earth in the face.

    Aw, I made myself sad.

  46. Tommy

    Me looking at the gif: 😀
    Me reading some of the comments: :(
    Me looking at the gif again: 😀

    @Nija: Mirroring the earth hardly makes it more accurate.

  47. icemith

    @43 It wasn’t until I viewed the “reversed orbit” version, that I noticed that the hot molten core of the Earth, visible when the mouth is open, has slipped down to just under the continent of Antarctica.

    The obvious question: Why isn’t/hasn’t the ice already melted?

    And another thing: the Moon makes three orbits in five seconds, indicating that Time has accelerated considerably, or that it is a time-lapse movie. If the latter, then the direction of orbit would be the opposite of the former condition.




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