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.

Watch the English dubbed version of Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10, Moon, January 15th at 9pm Eastern Time

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Queen Serenity

This Friday the next English dubbed episode of Sailor Moon Crystal will be available on Hulu and Neon Alley starting at 9pm Eastern Time, 6pm Pacific Time. With Act 10, Moon, the gang will be travelling to the … well the Moon. They don’t do so on a rocket ship but instead with magic. There we will see Usagi’s mother Queen Serenity, who has had her consciousness uploaded into a super computer. This will lead to wonderful and terrible flashbacks as we learn of the tragic fate of Princess Serenity and Endymion.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Nephrite with a cape

One great thing about this episode is the suggestion that the Sailor Guardians were romantically linked to the Shitennou. This was only hinted at in the manga with an image showing them together but it was never clearly demonstrated in the story.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Moon

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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Sailor Moon Crystal Act 9, Serenity – Princess, Review

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 9 -  Princess Serenity and her Guardians with Luna and Artemis

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 9, Serenity – Princess, went online yesterday, November 1st, on Crunchyroll, Hulu and Niconico. This episode is full of revelations as Princess Serenity, Prince Endymion, the Silver Crystal and tons of details about the past are finally revealed!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 9 - Princess Serenity kissing Prince Endymion

Did anyone really think Minako was the Moon Princess? That was all a bit silly with the last episode. Minako was the ruse and now we are finally shown the worst kept secret in Sailor Moon history, the true identity of Princess Serenity. But not content to have super obvious things finally revealed we are now being really secretive about the true identity of the woman from the past who killed Prince Endymion. Boy I wonder who the evil woman might be? Her face is obscured so I have no idea who this is.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 9 - Queen Beryl

Indeed, the big thing in this episode is this great flashback to Silver Millennium, the kingdom on the Moon from some time in the distant past. The English dub mentioned this time to be 1000 years ago which seems about right but an exact timeline is not ever given. Looking at the technology and architecture of Earth at the time it would seem that a Midlevel setting is what we’re seeing. This isn’t a flashback to when Prince Endymion was on Earth in the 1950s. The places on Earth also appear to be European rather than Asian, despite the people clearly speaking Japanese.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 9 - Usagi with her friends

Usagi is revealed to be the Princess and so the proper pecking order is well established. The other girls are her guardians, and this is shown both in their willingness to protect her in battle but also in the way they all come together to support her as friend now that she’s pretty down thinking Mamoru is kidnapped and likely dead. One concern she expresses is that they need to get him before his body deteriorates. No wonder she wants to return to a worry free teenage life.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 9 - Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite and Kunzite

The Shitennou are all still around which didn’t really go anywhere. In the manga version of this story we get a nice flashback showing they were Endymion’s generals back in the day and we see Jadeite’s body undo decomposition but all of this is skipped. Changes are expected to this story seeing as they are all still alive, rather than having been killed like in the manga, but I expected more rather than less to occur this week. For now we will continue to wait to see what is in store for those characters in the coming episodes. Kunzite recognized the name Endymion when it was mentioned so it looks like it’s only a matter of time until everything is on the table.

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

Next time we go to the Moon! Everyone is kind of waiting around but the girls want some answers and Luna suggests they may be found on the Moon. November 15th episode is Act 10, Moon. We’ll see more flash backs and a look at Queen Serenity, Princess Serenity’s mother from back in the day.

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 10 - Queen Serenity

Check out more screenshots from this week’s episode and the next episode preview below.

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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 Moon episodes 39 and 40 are now available on Hulu

Sailor Moon episode 39 - Makoto skating

The latest episodes of the original Sailor Moon anime, in Japanese with English subtitles by Viz, have been added to Hulu and Neon Alley this morning. As with every Monday two new episodes are added. This week we have episodes 39 and 40 which showcase just how terrible Mamoru is at being a bad guy. The Dark Kingdom is doing a pretty terrible job with this guy.

Sailor Moon episode 39 - Ami, Rei and Minako skating

First up we have episode 39, Paired With a Monster: Mako, the Ice Skating Queen, and it’s all about skating. It’s episode 39 but it feel like episode 390 by the way they’re just kind of going through some winter sports. Last week was skiing. This week is skating! Supposedly back in the day skating was really popular on the Moon. So where did the ice come from? Currently the Moon is a barren wasteland, and freezing cold as there’s virtually no atmosphere, so water could only ever exist as ice, though only in shaded areas. Silver Millennium is said to be located in the Sea of Tranquility which gets a decent amount of sun during it’s days which last 14 Earth days. Images of the Moon show flowing fountains at times and ice skating rinks in this episode where the people are wearing ear muff to keep warm. Also the Moon has a very small axial tilt meaning it would have virtually no seasons. So Usagi is a terrible skater, even though Princess Serenity was apparently really great at it. Makoto on the other hand is great right out of the gate and so she’s targeted by the enemy because that’s right this week they’re looking for really good skaters to find Sailor Moon! It’s not until she’s properly transformed that Sailor Moon actually starts to skate well and then Tuxedo Mask joins her. But isn’t he a bad guy? Oh yeah I guess Tuxedo Mask is kind of mad at Kunzite so he joins Sailor Moon in this episode. Beryl needs to keep a leash on this guy. It’s total nonsense. A little arguing amongst bad guys is one thing but teaming up with your top enemy is not a good idea. Also if you’re a fan of skating and hockey you should be sure to check out the Keeping Karlsson podcast for all the best hockey pool strategies.

Sailor Moon episode 40 - Shingo stealing Usagi's towel at the hot springs

Episode 40, The Legendary Lake Yokai: The Bond of Usagi’s Family, is a hot springs episode! But it’s not quite as saucy as you might think. Usagi and her family are going on a little trip to the hot springs, which based on what I’ve seen in anime seems to be a huge deal in Japan. We get some good Shingo/Usagi shipping action as they fight and he steals her towel. Mamoru is an absolutely terrible bad guy in this episode as he just kind of hangs around looking at the lake because Queen Beryl made a mistake in sending him. The lake is home to a lake monster which actually has nothing to do with the Dark Kingdom. Aside from Sakiko we haven’t really seen any monsters that weren’t directly created by the Dark Kingdom before. Turns out the lake monster is a jealous girlfriend that’s mad that a boy she was in love with hooked up with a girl from space. This story strongly parallels the Beryl/Endymion/Serenity love triangle. Beryl is in love with Endymion and he falls in love with Serenity who is from the Moon, leaving her. But then instead of turning into a lake monster Beryl took her army and killed everyone on the Moon. We all deal with our jealousies in our own ways. I’m not the only one to see this similarity as the lake monster mistakes Usagi for the woman stealing hussie from her day. Sailor Moon heals the monster releasing the jealous girl from her curse. The rest of the girls eventually show up for some hot springs fun which will make some of our readers happy, like that guy that keeps asking if they’re going to do a beach episode of Sailor Moon Crystal. You know who you are!

Sailor Moon episode 40 - Makoto, Minako, Rei and Ami at the hot springs

Speaking of sexy bodies at the hot spring, check out Kenji Papa in this episode! He’s looking fit. What does he do between this point and when they go to the VR place in Sailor Moon R where he’s got a gut?

Sailor Moon episode 40 - Ikuko Mama and Kenji Papa