The Magic of Aladdin…
I went to Disneyland last week and saw the Aladdin show at California Adventure. First, I will say that this is easily the best show I have seen in any theme park anywhere. It tells the story well and has very good production values with a talented cast. If you are there, it is a must see.
But the astronomy in the show is not so good. I snapped a pic during the show of the scene in Jasmine’s quarters (no flash photography so I apologize if it is slightly blurry from camera shake).
There is one thing wrong with this picture and another that is, well, implausible at best. Look closely at the crescent Moon (ignore for the moment the fact that the Moon is WAY too big! You should be able to cover the Moon with your pinky held out at arm’s length.) You can see stars inside the crescent! Although we see only a lit crescent, the rest of the Moon is still there (sometimes near sunset or sunrise you can dimly see the rest of the Moon due to Earthshine). The Moon should block out any stars that are behind it. The only way to see stars inside the crescent is if they are closer to Earth than the Moon. There are no stars closer to Earth than the Moon…and I am pretty confident none will be discovered there in the future!
The second issue is more subtle. The Moon depicted is a waning crescent (for viewers in the northern hemisphere and Agraba is in the northern hemisphere). A waning crescent Moon won’t rise until well after midnight. Based on its phase, this Moon would probably come up at 3 or 4am. Now I know Aladdin isn’t the brightest bulb in the circuit, but I doubt he would wait until four in the morning to go woo Jasmine…I mean, the Genie is giving him all kinds of advice and seems like a sensible guy who would say, “Hey, Al! Don’t wait until four in the morning!”
But its worse than that. The waning crescent moon would rise with its “horns” pointing upward. Here they are distinctly pointing down. They point down when the waning crescent Moon sets. In this phase, the Moon sets sometime in the middle of the afternoon. Oops! The Sun should still be up.
Now this might seem like nitpicking, but they could have just as spent five minutes with me and gotten it correct. There is nothing in the plot (or even visually) that would be been diminished by a realistic depiction of the scene. Maybe I should offer my services to Disney as an astronomy consultant!
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