What would it be like to look up into the night sky and see the other planets if they were all the same distance from the Earth as the Moon?  Brad Goodspeed figured it out, rendered it as a video, and then watched as his video went completely viral – and for good reason, because it’s awesome.

Scale from Brad Goodspeed on Vimeo.


From Brad’s original post:

So the basic idea is, each planet you see is the size it would appear in the sky if it shared an orbit with the moon, 380,000 kms from earth. I created this video in After Effects, and because of certain technical considerations had to keep the field of view at 62 degrees. That means the foreground element is not precisely to scale. I realized this after the fact and may update the video at some point in the future. All planets are to correct scale with one another in any case.

Later, after as a response to viewer feedback, he wrote:

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING VIDEO DOES NOT REPRESENT THE ENTIRE NIGHT SKY, or at least it doesn’t anymore. I’ve updated the video to omit the foreground landscape in an effort to account for an error in perspective. Unfortunately, due to my error, websites are widely reporting that Jupiter would fill the entire night sky, but it wouldn’t. What’s depicted here is a much narrower perspective than the previously mentioned 62 degrees, something that I imagine could be calculated by people much brighter than I. I imagine this view is closer to what you’d see through some very weak binoculars, but that’s just a guess. For a somewhat technical explanation of what was wrong with the original version of this video, and what that realization can teach us about skepticism, please read the following: bradblogspeed.com/im-bad-at-math

Brad’s video is a great example of science intersecting with art and a dab of skepticism.  As a child, one of the first targets of my telescope was the moon, and then, Jupiter.  To see them portrayed as if they were the same distance from Earth is visually stunning.  For me, the video invokes a sense of awe as you realize how small our little corner of the solar system is (let alone, the whole universe).

Be sure to follow Brad’s stream of consciousness on his blog.