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Astronomy and Apocalypto January 1, 2007

Posted by jfoust in Entertainment, Science.

Over the weekend I went to see Apocalypto. I enjoyed the movie, but one thing bugged me, and it wasn’t the rather gory violence in it: it was the astronomy. Two minor things:

  1. During the scene atop the pyramid, the solar eclipse that was key to Jaguar Paw’s fate took place much too quickly: the time from when when the Moon first started to cross the Sun’s disk to the time it left (from first contact to fourth contact, in astronomy jargon) appeared to be in minutes. Typically during a solar eclipse that time will be a couple of hours. But then, if the eclipse took place that slowly it wouldn’t be so dramatic.
  2. Then, what appears to be that night, Jaguar Paw’s wife, Seven, looks up at a full (or nearly full) Moon. The problem with that is that solar eclipses take place during the new Moon, and one has to wait two weeks for a full Moon.

If there are the issues that stick in our mind after seeing a movie like that, then you are indeed a science geek.



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