Could we see the remains of Silver Millennium with a telescope from Earth?

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 9 - Silver Millennium

A question came up recently in the comments to a post on the site about Act 10 of Sailor Moon Crystal, where the gang travel to Moon to see the remnants of Silver Millennium, the Kingdom which existed on the Moon in the ancient past. If such a place existed, wouldn’t people be able to see it? Wouldn’t NASA or the Russian Space Agency have seen it? When not running a Sailor Moon site I do a science and skepticism podcast, The Reality Check, and this seemed like a perfect topic to cover on that show. If you’re interested in giving that a listen, check out episode 385 of The Reality Check. The final segment of this week’s show covers the topic of whether or not we could see the remains of the Apollo missions on the Moon, from the Earth, using a telescope. The show title doesn’t mention it but I also used this opportunity to explore the plausibility of seeing the remains of Silver Millennium through a telescope, using similar logic.

For those who aren’t into listening to a full podcast to get the low down, I’ll sum up my findings below. So much to say there isn’t a clear answer, and we might be able to see it depending on its size, but it is something which could be easily missed.

The comment was made by reader Neon Genesis on this post about the English dub of Act 10, Moon.

While I love this episode, it still doesn’t make much sense to me why no one on Earth never noticed there was these huge ruins of a palace on the moon. You’d think NASA or the Russian space agency would have picked up on this or something. Is there some magic force field protecting it from being detected? But neither the manga nor Crystal ever seems to explain this at all and you’re just left to assume NASA just never found it for some reason. This made a little more sense in the 90s anime where they traveled back in time to get to the Moon Kingdom ruins.

This reminded me of claims I’d heard that you couldn’t see the remains of the Apollo mission on the Moon through a telescope. This was a frequent idea brought up by conspiracy theorists who believe man did not land on the Moon. If we went up there, shouldn’t we be able to look at the flag we left there through a telescope? Or see the rovers and other debris left behind by the missions? The largest thing left of the moon is the base of a Lunar lander which is 4 meters wide and with legs spreading out to be about 9 meters. Apollo missions 15, 16 and 16 left rovers which were about 2x3m in size.

The Moon landing in 1969

What size would something have to be, on the Moon, in order for us to see it with a powerful telescope? Luckily Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, has already crunched the numbers for this using as an example the Hubble Telescope. There’s a bunch of math involved, which I get into on the show, and can also be found at the Bad Astronomy blog, but so much to say the further away an item is, the harder it is to see, obviously. The larger the lens of your telescope, the better your power at resolving things is. To see something on the Moon with the Hubble Telescope, which has a 2.4 meter mirror, something that is about 100 meters across would basically resolve to a single point. Practically speaking something would need to be about 200 meters in order to be seen on its own.

This works both ways. Think of Rita Repulsa sitting on the Moon looking down through her telescope at what the Power Rangers are doing and making out small details. This is totally unrealistic as her tiny telescope is considerably smaller than the Hubble Space Telescope and she is making out objects much smaller than 100m. An average Power Ranger is probably about 2m tall and much smaller when seen from above while standing.

All said we can use shadows to see more detail. As the sun sets on the Moon it will leave a long shadow of the object in question. This means even a smaller object could leave a shadow large enough to see, if the conditions are right.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - The Sailor Guardians in Silver Millennium

So much to say, we can’t see anything left from the Apollo missions on the Moon through the Hubble Telescope. There is something else we could use however! The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) flew just 31 miles above the Moon’s surface. This is much lower than a satellite would have been able to fly over the Earth’s surface due to atmospheric drag, but the atmosphere on the Moon is nearly non existent so this isn’t a concern at such a height. This took great photos, the kind more comparable to what we’d see on Google Maps, so we were actually able to make out what was left by the Apollo missions with these photos, as can be seen at the following link.

Back to the original question. Can we see the ruins of Silver Millennium? That depends. We don’t actually have specifics of the size. If this were a full city thriving we could probably make something out, but it appears to be somewhat small in size and sort of ruined. People like to measure things in football fields. One football field is 100m, which is too small to resolve, but a number of football fields is something we could just barely make out, if we knew what we were looking for.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Silver Millennium in ruin

Silver Millennium is composed of a large castle surrounded by some buildings, as seen from the above photo. We don’t have a specific sense of scale but we can use the largest castles and palaces on Earth to infer how big it would be if it were quite large. Prague Castle on Earth is 130x570m. This wouldn’t show up as much of anything on a telescope. The Palace of Parliament is some 270x240m, which also could just be a few dots in a telescope. Let’s assume Silver Millennium is at most about twice that, based on what we see in Act 10, and we might be it at about 500x500m. A square kilometre would be big, and that is considerably smaller than an average city on Earth. Its actually quite possible to fit a castle and surrounding buildings in a space smaller than a football field, so there’s still a possibility it would not resolve at all.

Adding to this the kingdom is in decay. Back in the day Silver Millennium was full of lakes and green vegetation but now it is grey and looks like stone. We don’t know exactly how old it is but even over a few thousand years it should be decently well preserved on a planet devoid of life. We see evidence of impacts on the surface of the Moon but there are a lot more on the far side. The reason we see more on the Moon than on Earth is because there is no life and geological activity to mask those signs like there are here on Earth. That said, it is stated quite clearly in the Sailor Moon manga and Sailor Moon Crystal that Silver Millennium was turned to stone after being destroyed. Because of that, it would be hard to make out much of anything, in an image that is barely above what resolves, if we were even knowing what to look for.

You probably couldn’t see the remains of Silver Millennium on the Moon with a telescope, given its small size and how similar its grey rock colour would look to the Moon’s surface. This may change slightly when the Castle is rebuilt after the Dark Kingdom is destroyed, but it would still be hard to see even for someone who knew exactly where to look for it, which in this case is somewhere in the 674 km wide Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity). Looking for its shadow at just the right time would probably produce something visible, given precise timing and looking at the right place. All said it is quite plausible, in a realistic context of the show, that the ruins of Silver Millennium were never found by any amateur astronomers or space agencies.

Sailor Pluto’s heart shaped Garnet Orb can be seen on new photos of Pluto

The heart on Pluto is Sailor Pluto's Garnet Orb

This morning NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft was a mere 12,500 km from Pluto. While approaching it took the above photo, the highest quality photo taken at the time, which reveals a large heart shape on the dwarf planet’s surface. No doubt this is Sailor Pluto’s heart shaped Garnet Orb which lies on top of her Garnet Rod. This Garnet Orb is one of the three Talismans, the other two being Sailor Uranus’s Space Sword and Sailor Neptune’s Deep Aqua Mirror.

Pluto has a heart on it

Sailor Pluto’s status as a Sailor Guardian has come into question since her planet was downgraded back in 2006. Despite more recent rumours to the contrary Pluto is still very much not a planet. That said the appearance of her Talisman across the surface of her dwarf planet’s surface is a big deal. Until now the only celestial body with something on it’s surface represented by the character was the rabbit on the Moon from which Usagi, who’s name is the Japanese word for rabbit, gets her name.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 19 - Sailor Pluto

One might also argue that Sailor Jupiter’s Flower Hurricane takes some inspiration from the Great Red Dot of Jupiter which is technically a anticyclonic storm. Storms are only called Hurricanes if they occur around North America. Those centered near Japan are actually called Typhoons, which makes one wonder why Sailor Jupiter’s attack would be named after something which can no occur where she lives.

Sailor Moon - Petite Étrangère - Sailor Pluto

Now we must ask ourselves how Naoko Takeuchi managed to know back in the 90s that Pluto had a heart on it’s surface even though we didn’t get these pictures until today. Time travel seems to be the most logical explanation though we must remain open minded to alternative theories until an official statement is made.

Sailor Moon R episode 75 - Sailor Pluto

Source: NASA

Sailor Pluto isn’t a Sailor Scout anymore in Animation Domination HD’s take on Sailor Moon Crystal

Animation Domination's Sailor Moon 2015 - Neil deGrasse Tyson and Sailor Pluto

Animation Domination High-Def have put together a parody video of Sailor Moon Crystal. In this video Sailor Pluto is essentially fired as a Sailor Scout because Neil deGrasse Tyson, the host of Cosmos which plays on Fox along with Animation Domination shows, decided that Pluto wasn’t a planet any more. Watch this hilarious video below and then keep reading for a nitpicky breakdown of everything wrong with it.

I wrote an article back in 2006 that similarly asked the question of what would happen to Sailor Pluto as a result of the downgrade of Pluto’s planetary status. It was not animated and not nearly as funny. The Moon Stick web comic also tackled the issue a few years ago with this comic.

Animation Domination's Sailor Moon 2015 - The Sailor Guardians

Many commenters are saying that this video is wrong because Pluto is a planet again. This is quite incorrect. An irresponsible and downright dishonest University publication made statements about Pluto being a planet following an informal survey after an internal debate and the press reprinted and tweaked this story to lead people to believe something had changed. There is no agreement amongst the scientific community that Pluto has being reinstated as a planet. For more on that check out episode 318 of the Reality Check podcast in which I discuss Pluto’s status as a planet and drop more than a few Sailor Moon references.

Animation Domination's Sailor Moon 2015 - Sailor Moon

Okay now that all that is out of the way let’s take all of the fun out of this video by pointing out the many inaccuracies, as hardcore Sailor Moon fans. Feel free to mention any other problems you notice in the comments!

  • The video mentions it as Sailor Moon 2015, though Sailor Moon Crystal premiered on July 5th 2014
  • The costumes are all wrong. Not even sure where to start here. Pretty much all of the colours are wrong. They actually look more like school uniforms than their Sailor Scout uniforms with the scarves closer to Minako’s uniform than the bows they usually have, they are wearing socks, there are no tiaras, there are no broaches. They’re just all wrong.
  • Animation Domination's Sailor Moon 2015 - Sailor Venus

  • The border around much of the video is similar to one used by DiC for episode previews, which isn’t used by Sailor Moon Crystal
  • Minako says that Pluto is “like a fucking asteroid or something now”. It’s not quite an asteroid, but a Dwarf Planet. This isn’t really something the video got wrong as they could simply be insinuating that Minako just doesn’t know much about Astronomy.
  • The basic idea of this video is that the Sailor Scouts get their power from planets. This is not correct, as is mentioned Sailor Moon is a Sailor Scout and only represents a Moon. Sailor Chibi Moon also isn’t tied to any planet. The Amazon Quartet, Phobos and Deimos, the Starlights and tons more get their power from astral bodies which are not defined as planets.
  • Sailor Mercury mocks Sailor Pluto for being old enough to drive yet hanging out with 8th graders. It’s hard to make an equivalent here because the Japanese school system is totally different but at the beginning of the Sailor Moon series the characters are 14 years old putting them in roughly 9th grade. As the manga progresses, which is what Sailor Moon Crystal is more closely based on, a year passes for each story arc. Sailor Pluto appears in the second story arc making the characters at least 15 at the time of these events. Factoring in that Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Saturn aren’t around until the third year and they could easily be as old as 16 at this point. All this said Sailor Uranus is shown to have a driver’s license, not to mention the fact that old man Mamoru is in a full on relationship with Usagi and also has his driver’s license. Of course Sailor Mercury says this while texting a college guy.
  • Animation Domination's Sailor Moon 2015 - Sailor Mercury sexting

  • Sailor Pluto claims to be 41 years old. Since she is originally from the future this is hard to properly quantify, as she could be quite old and living outside of time near the Space-Time Door could have her age at a different rate or be considered to be essentially ageless. All said, she’s portrayed in the manga and anime as being a few years older than the rest of the girls but nothing close to 41.
  • Animation Domination's Sailor Moon 2015 - Old Sailor Pluto

  • Minako says she’ll kill herself before being 41 yet she is alive and well in the 30th century. Of course Minako has literally died a number of times in all continuities and come back from it without issues, so this is entirely possible, but she’ll likely be pushing 1000 in Crystal Tokyo so no need to judge.
  • Luna has a British voice, similar to that portrayed by Jill Frappier. This is unlikely to be how Luna sounds in the new dub of Sailor Moon Crystal. The new dub of the original anime has Luna voiced by Michelle Ruff who doesn’t sound anything like Jill Frappier did.
  • Animation Domination's Sailor Moon 2015 - Luna

  • Luna tells Pluto get a job. Sailor Pluto has a job. She protects the Space-Time Door.
  • When asked to find a husband Sailor Pluto says that she’s divorced. Divorced people can still find love! The greater problem is that Sailor Pluto is clearly in love with King Endymion who’s still married to Neo Queen Serenity.
  • Finally, this whole video is nonsense since Sailor Pluto has already been confirmed as appearing in Sailor Moon Crystal during it’s second season which is set to start next Saturday.
  • Source: The Animation Domination High-Def Facebook Page.

    Keep reading for more screenshots from this video.

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    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10, Moon, Review

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Jadeite with a cape and sword

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10, Moon, was released November 15th on Crunchyroll,
    Hulu and Niconico at 7pm Japan Standard Time. The episode was available an hour early to fans who observe daylight savings time due to the fact that the Japanese don’t roll back their clocks. This will be the same for the next 6 months worth of episodes. Lots happens this week as the Sailor Guardians go to the Moon to learn about their past!

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Kenji Papa's classic "upset that Usagi has a boyfriend" face

    The episode starts out with a fun scene of Usagi and her family at home. This lets us see Kenji Papa doing his oh so famous “What? You have a BOYFRIEND?!” face. The original manga chapter of this story has Shingo and Usagi playing with a game system which appears to be a Super Famicom (Japanese Super Nintendo), which would fit with the technology of the time. What is this updated to in 2014? Shingo is playing with what appears to be an original model Gameboy Advance, released in Japan in March of 2001. This seems seriously dated as the GBA SP was released in 2003 and the next generation Nintendo DS was released nearly 10 years ago in 2004. The style choice may have been made because the Gameboy Advance form factor is more generic, vaguely resembling the PSP or or less so the Vite, Wonderswan or Sega Game Gear. Do kids these days even think this thing looks like a game system?

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Usagi and Shingo playing Gameboy Advance

    The girls go to the Moon and this is decently done, but I took a few astronomical issues with how this was portrayed which I will touch on at the end of the post for those who are interested. Once on the Moon there is a sword set in stone, which is called various things including the Holy Sword or the Sword of the Silver Crystal. Venus is the only one that is able to pull it, though the other girls working together were able to budge it. This sword is seen as the T in the word Crystal in the show’s logo, so it’s no big surprise when we see it.

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Sailor Venus and her sword

    Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal logo

    Queen Serenity appears as a computer simulation recreated from her memories. This sets the technological level of Silver Millennium well past that of Earth in 2014, let alone 1992 or the ancient past when all this occurred. We’re nowhere close to the kind of whole brain emulation or mind uploading that would be required to do something like this. Sailor Moon’s attacks and transformation always seem like magic but an advanced civilization like this would be capable of machine level super intelligence so advanced that such things may very well be possible through technological progress rather than anything mystical, but that’s hardly hinted at in the rest of the series. It would be more internally consistent to assume that their magical abilities helped them achieve technological progress, or that the simulation is a mix of both.

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Queen Serenity talking to her daughter Sailor Moon

    We learn about the tragic events on the Moon. Endymion was killed and so Serenity, in grief, took her own life. In the manga it appears that the sword Sailor Moon uses on herself is the one Sailor Venus later removes from the stone. Sailor Moon Crystal clearly shows her using Endymion’s sword for this.

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Princess Serenity taking her own life with Prince Endymion's sword

    The biggest deal with this episode are the Shitennou couplings! We knew we kept them all around for a reason. Kunzite snoops on Beryl and Metalia much as he did in the Manga however this time he has Jadeite, Nephrite and Zoisite with him. Venus has full memories of them in the past, when they all had capes like Kunzite’s, and the Sailor Guardians went to Earth to fall in love with them. This was never shown in the manga, except in a single image. The couplings are consistent with that image as Sailor Mercury is in love with Zoisite, Sailor Mars is in love with Jadeite, Sailor Jupiter is in love with Nephrite and Sailor Venus is in love with Kunzite. Sailor Venus and Kunzite’s relationship is hinted at in both the Sailor Moon and Sailor V manga.

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Nephrite with a cape

    A new attack is used as the Sailor Guardians use their Sailor Planet Attack. Kunzite is meant to be killed at this point, but we didn’t keep the rest of the Shitennou around just to have them killed off now! They will be alive for some new scenes in coming episodes!

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Sailor Planet Attack

    Queen Beryl revives Tuxedo Mask who is now under her control. She is clearly in love with him and in order to keep other girls from stealing him away she dresses him up in the most ridiculously terrible beige sweater. This hurts my brain less than the checker pattern Endo wears in the manga, but it is considerably less stylish. This is something an 80 year old might decide to wear, which isn’t too far off considering just how old Mamoru is if his reincarnation is considered.

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Endo has a terrible sweater

    Update: Alita from the Facebook page has pointed out that this is a common sweater type that is worn with a school uniform in Japan. I had no idea this Mr. Rogers style was so common but it is. I always appreciate it when readers who are more familiar with Japanese culture than me for point things like this out.

    Mr. Rogers sweater

    Next time in Act 11, Reunion – Endymion, Tuxedo Mask is evil. He’s about town with mixed memories calling himself Endo, a short form of Endymion. This episode will not be available until December 6th which is three weeks from now, since Sailor Moon Crystal is only released on the first and third Saturday of every month. Hang in there Sailor Moon fans!

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 11 Preview - Usagi sees Endo

    Now, on to the somewhat nitpick astronomical issues I took with this episode. I am not trying to point these out in an attempt to mock the show, but in the interest of education for those who may be interested. It is mentioned that they travel to the Earth during a full Moon. Knowing the phase of the Moon tells us a lot about what we should expect to see as far as illumination of the Earth goes. Ami mentions that the Moon is right above them, indicating it is roughly the middle of the night at the time, and that the Sun is pretty much on the complete other side of the Earth. While they are flying from the Earth to the Moon, located somewhere between the two, they gaze back at the Earth and it is more than half illuminated by the Sun. This is not possible while the Moon is full. For the Sun to fully illuminate the Moon, almost none of the Earth would be illuminated from the vantage point of the Moon or somewhere in between. The Earth should actually appear like a New Moon, with just a sliver of illumination at most.

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - The Earth should not be more than half lit when the Moon is full and the observer us between the two

    Luna mentions that they are traveling to the Sea of Serenity also known as “Mare Serenitatis”. This is located on the surface of the Moon far from the edges, as seen from the Earth. If you find the rabbit on the Moon, it’s near the ball that makes up the body. When landing in this area the Earth should be seen high in the sky, however the Earth is seen in the horizon from this vantage point. Because the Moon is tidally locked to the Earth, the same part is always facing us which means that from the Moon the Earth would always occupy roughly the same spot in the sky, and unless you are located on what we see as the edges of the Moon, the Earth would never be anywhere near the horizon.

    Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - The Earth is too low in the sky for where they should be on the Moon and if the Sun was obscured like this there would be a partial lunar eclipse

    Finally as they are leaving Luna mentions that the Sun is about to rise on Earth. We see the Earth with the Sun completely covered, only starting to appear from behind it. This would be a rare astronomical event which we on Earth would observe as a full or partial Lunar eclipse, as can be seen in this post I made about the recent Lunar eclipse. If the Sun, as seen from the Moon, is obscured by the Earth that means the Earth is casting it’s shadow on the Moon. Surely this happens during a full Moon, but no ellipse was mentioned as happening during the episode. It should also be mentioned that were the Sun actually behind the Earth as is seen here an observer would not be able to see any details on the surface, as it would not be illuminated at all.

    Keep reading for more screenshots from this week’s episode and the next episode preview for Act 11, Reunion – Endymion.

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    What would tomorrow’s Lunar eclipse look like from the Moon?

    Princess Serenity staring at the Earth during a Lunar eclipse

    Tomorrow, October 8th 2014, there will be a Lunar eclipse. Here on Earth we will see the Moon obscured by the shadow of the Earth, but what would this look like to the people living on the Moon in Silver Millennium? Princess Serenity spent a good deal of time staring out at the Earth. If she happened to do so during what we call a Lunar eclipse, what would she see? Included above is a rough estimate done in a rush.

    Lunar eclipse as seen from the Moon

    A Lunar eclipse seen from the Moon would be somewhat like a solar eclipse seen from Earth. The Earth, located between the Moon and the Sun, would cover the Sun from view causing the Moon’s surface to be plunged in darkness. With the Earth occupying more space in the Moon’s sky than the Moon does in ours, Lunar eclipses seen from the Moon would generally cover more of the sun and for more time than a Solar eclipse observes from Earth. Inhabitants of the Moon would be used to seeing the Sun up in the sky for 14 Earth days of light followed by 14 Earth days of darkness. This eclipse would occur 7 Earth days into their period of light right at the middle of the day, when the Moon is at it’s fullest.

    Lunar eclipse as seen from the Moon

    The Kaguya space probe from Japan had a look at just what it this looks like in February of 2009. This view had the Earth covering all but a small part of the sun, leaving a small ring in the sky. The Kaguya space probe viewed the Earth from near the Moon’s North pole, which is why it was partially covered by the Moon’s surface in the horizon. Since Silver Millennium was located in the Sea of Tranquility the Earth would actually be located quite high in the sky, staying mostly stationary throughout the day. Years ago I did some math based on the size and location of the Earth in the Moon’s sky and in all cases this representation was incompatible with what it would look like if it was observed from the Sea of Tranquility.

    Tomorrow’s Lunar eclipse will begin at 4:17am EST with the full eclipse happening at 6:27am EST shortly before sunrise here in Ottawa. Check this page out to see if and when it will be visible for you.

    Sailor Pluto downgraded?

    Sailor Pluto dyingOn Thursday August 24th 2006 Pluto’s status was downgraded from “planet” to “dwarf planet” taking it out of the ranks of such greats as Earth, Mars and Uranus to name a few! While this decision is being disputed by those with a political interest in having Pluto remain a planet, as Robin Catchpole says “My own personal opinion was to leave things as they were”, for the time being there are only 8 known planets in our fine solar system. But what does this really imply?

    Sailor Pluto, one of the 8 Sailor Soldiers sworn to protect the Princess of the Moon and future Queen of Earth, is no longer representative of a planet like her 7 fellow guardians. While she’s always been an outcast of types forced to spend most of her time in solitude protecting the door of time she was still technically ranked equally with the rest. Is Sailor Pluto dead? Does she lose her powers now that she doesn’t have a planet? Will her true star seed which gives her that power be downgraded to a normal one like the rest of the 6 billion people on this planet have? Well… no.

    Many are shown to have star seeds who represent celestial bodies which aren’t classified as planets. The most obvious example of this being Sailor Moon herself who, being the most powerfull of soldiers and with a star seed that shines brighter than any other, is only the Sailor of the moon of a planet. Then there’s Phobos and Dymos, Sailor Mars’s crows, who represent the moons of Mars. Luna and Artemis are … a whole other story.
    Sailor Ceres
    But who else is named after a dwarf planet? Sailor Ceres represents Ceres, a large asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter which is also classified as a dwarf planet. Her and the rest of the former Amazon Quartet protect Chibi Usa as she is destined to succeed Sailor Moon and needs a posse of her own.

    What does this mean for Pluto then? Well probably nothing. But hey maybe she’ll change camps and go protect Chibi Usa. Fitting though that of all the planets this should happen to it would be Pluto considering she is the one who in 30th century Crystal Tokyo is shown to have a close personal relationship with Chibi Usa while the other girls are still taking care of the Queen. Pluto who’s mentioned to be both the same and different from the other girls as she has that different duty of protecting the Door of Time really is the odd planet out.


    RIP Pluto
    1930-2006

    Clyde Tombaugh
    Clyde Tombaugh discovered pluto
    thanks to a telescopic penis

    This article was originally written for the Powet.tv website. You can find the original article here.