If the Moon were only 1 pixel (and Cosmos)

We watched the first episode of the new Cosmos last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course my wife and I spent every minute comparing it to the original, while our son thought it was all new and cool. My favorite moment: Neil deGrasse Tyson donning shades to watch the Big Bang. As some are saying (rather petulantly, I think), Neil is no Carl — but frankly, Carl Sagan couldn’t have gotten away with those sunglasses.

Also, I’d just like to take a moment to thank European cable programming, which still operates on the old bargain that if you pay for a channel, you don’t have to watch commercials every five minutes. (Remember when that was the deal for US cable too?) There was not a single commercial in our airing of the episode, and after hearing various US viewers complain mightily about how the show was chopped up into tiny segments punctuated by interminable commercials, I’m even more grateful for our high-quality, uninterrupted experience. We’re ready for the next episode!

Since Cosmos primed us with the concept of the galactic address, this is a perfect time to check out the website “If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel: A tediously accurate map of the solar system.” You may have seen something like it before, in which you scroll horizontally across vast distances to see a scale model of the solar system, but this one is different in a couple of ways.

— First, an indicator at the bottom keeps you apprised of how much distance you’ve covered from the Sun.

— Second, it includes little notes and observations between planets to keep up your interest as you traverse the long, long, long, long distances of nothingness between tiny points of light.

— And third, you can use shortcut buttons at the top to simply hop from one planet to another, while still being able to see the true scale of things. But you won’t be able to read the little notes. (When going this route, you do have to keep your eye on the scroll bar indicator of your browser, because the automated scrolling alters speed in order to keep you from sitting there for an hour waiting for it to get from Mars to Jupiter and beyond. If you’re not watching how the scroll bar zoooms along before slowing to a stop at its destination, you’ll get an inaccurate impression of the distance.)

I’m always surprised at how far Mercury really is from the Sun, and how ridiculously far away Uranus and Neptune are. Also, a tip of the hat to the website designer for including Pluto. I laughed at the note there — and then nodded my head.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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2 Responses to If the Moon were only 1 pixel (and Cosmos)

  1. Sandra Berry says:

    Do you choose channels and pay for each individually? If so, I’d go broke since I watch TV beginning with morning coffee and the Weather Channel, the news and part of Good Morning America while getting dressed. I rarely watch much between 10AM and 6PM. I didn’t mind commercials too much since I usually used the interruption to do something else. I did not want to be interrupted watching Downton Abby, Nature, Doc Martin, American Experience, Burn’s specials, and Nova. Thankfully they all come on PBS and are commercial free except during fund raising.
    I enjoyed COSMOS commercial free. It’s shown on four different cable channels north of Sacramento. i’m watching it commercial free on National Geographic using On Demand, a free service included in a bundle special I have with broadband cable. It combines HD and Basic cable, high-speed internet and unlimited phone in one bill at a reduced price. With On Demand I have access dozens of TV programs, special events and concerts with my remote the day after they appear on TV. Most are commercial free or they’re very limited. TV episodes remain all season. New releases range between $5 and $7 and get cheaper as newer films come out. I get four free rentals a year. Movies like Gravity are worth paying $10 to see in a Real 3D theater. On Demand has a huge library of categorized free films. I find independent films there. At least six cable and satellite providers have installations in this area. I don’t subscribe to add-on services like Netflix.There’s a big difference in choices available throughout the US. Even in different areas in the same state. My broadband cable is available on the west coast with local tech support. New services become available every year and competition is fierce. Maybe it’s the location. US customers with access to a variety of choices may get more satisfaction and save “a bundle” by shopping around.

    • oregon expat says:

      No, we have a package with a zillion channels. We didn’t buy it for the TV, but rather for the fiber optic Internet access, which is blazing fast. The TV channels came with the package, but in truth we download most of what we watch. Except the Olympics and Cosmos.

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