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Thread: Destination Moon. (The Movie)

  1. #1
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    Destination Moon. (The Movie)

    What a wondeful collection of good examples of Bad Astronomy.

    Even I can spot them. but if I list them all this post will be about twenty feet long. So I will just mention the most obvious and most repeated.

    Stars galore all over the sky in every shot, the weirdest 'moon surface' you ever did see. (Even the ancient GREEKS knew that it didn't look like that.)

    And the silliest plot ever. Never to mention the most unlikely looking space ship. (Called Luna. LOONY would have been better. LOL).

    Don't miss it if it should appear on your TV channel list.

  2. #2
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    Do you realize that movie was made in 1950? I think the science in that movie is pretty damn good, considering what people knew about space travel back then. And that moonscape is a painting by one of the most famous space artists of all time: Chesley Bonestell.

    Quote Originally Posted by stranger View Post
    . . . the weirdest 'moon surface' you ever did see. (Even the ancient GREEKS knew that it didn't look like that.)
    Please supply the reference (or a link) as to what the ancient Greeks thought the surface of the Moon looked like.

    but if I list them all this post will be about twenty feet long.
    I could make a list "twenty feet long" of movies that have worse science than Destination Moon.

    Oh, I admit the dialog is a bit silly sometimes and I could have done without the Brooklyn "astronaut" who was there for comic relief. (I don't remember what they called themselves, if anything, since it was before the term "astronaut".)
    Last edited by Tucson_Tim; 2009-Jun-02 at 06:35 PM. Reason: Grammar errors

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    Robert A. Heinlein served as consultant to the film and who fought pretty hard to make the effects and physics as accurate as possible, based on what was known then. But he also recognized that it was a commercial film and meant to entertain, not educate. And to return profits to its investors.

    I try to see it whenever it shows up on TV - which is rare. This Island Earth seems to show up more - talk about bad astronomy and bad science!

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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    This Island Earth seems to show up more - talk about bad astronomy and bad science!
    The only way I can watch that movie is when it gets the MST3K treatment.

    An interesting fact about Destination Moon from IMDB:

    The rocket uses water, heated by a nuclear reactor, as reaction mass. This system, although with electrical heating, is actually occasionally used for small unmanned rockets for scientific research. Both the US and the Soviet Union tried to build (jet) airplanes on the principle but abandoned the concept because a flying nuclear reactor was too risky.
    Last edited by Tucson_Tim; 2009-Jun-02 at 07:15 PM. Reason: Interesting fact

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    Lots of 1950s space crews were populated by the planet's top scientists plus one funny guy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DonM435 View Post
    Lots of 1950s space crews were populated by the planet's top scientists plus one funny guy.
    That's true. But really, is it any goofier than having all the top officers on the ship (and one disposable crew mate) beam down as an "away team", a la Star Trek?

    As far as realistic space science fiction, I would select Destination Moon (1950), then, maybe, Forbidden Planet (1956), then 2001 (1968), and there have been very few since then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stranger View Post
    (Even the ancient GREEKS knew that it didn't look like that.)
    I didn't think anyone pre Galileo had any conception of the moon and planets being worlds. I'd be interested to learn I was wrong.

    I think Destination Moon deserves a lot of credit for making an effort to get the science right, and to base the drama on the actual dangers out there rather than some made-up nonsense.

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    Paul,

    I think the ancient Greeks may have thought of the planets as worlds.
    Lucian, a Syrian writing in Greek, in Athens, in the second century AD,
    wrote a satire titled 'True History' which described inhabitants of the
    Moon and the Sun. That would seem to imply that he thought of them
    as places something like the Earth.

    I first said this in the thread http://www.bautforum.com/space-astro...d-planets.html

    I've seen 'Destination Moon' only once, but I saw it projected from film.
    It is the quintessential pro-Space film. (So is 'When Worlds Collide'. )

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
    http://www.FreeMars.org/jeff/

    "I find astronomy very interesting, but I wouldn't if I thought we
    were just going to sit here and look." -- "Van Rijn"

    "The other planets? Well, they just happen to be there, but the
    point of rockets is to explore them!" -- Kai Yeves

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    Good point, Jeff. I'd heard of the story many, many years ago, but had forgotten it was written so long ago.

    However, I'd be surprised if they were considered worlds in the actual planet sense.

    ETA Having checked Wiki, it seems they were! I must get hold of a copy and read it some day.

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    I agree with Tucson Tim's putting Destination Moon in the same category as 2001, once you allow for the different eras (and level of directorial clout). They were both collaborations of established SF writers with Hollywood that consciously tried to get things right.

    I'd disagree with schlaugh marginally, in that I gather the movie was meant to educate. The Woody Woodpecker guide to spaceflight was apparently consciously aimed at convincing the public that spaceflight really had become practical in the near future. They fudged a little (like with the single stage to Lunar surface design), but tried to stick with the plausible in order to reinforce that.

    It's interesting to compare it with Pal's later Conquest of Space. I have a love/hate relationship with that movie. On the one hand its hardware and mission profile is portrayed even more plausibly than those in Destination Moon, being based on the popularized concepts von Braun was publicizing at the time. On the other hand, the plot and characters are truly dreadful. I have heard that audiences disliked those in DM, claiming that they were somewhat flat. The attempt to spice things up led to about half of the crew in Conquest being too "colorful" for the story's good.

    It's a shame, because they did stick with plausible dangers. Indeed, the psychological stress of the mission is the main theme. Had it been well handled it could have been a real classic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noordung View Post
    It's interesting to compare it with Pal's later Conquest of Space.
    I haven't seen Conquest of Space in many, many years. I need to see it again. Thanks for the reminder.

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    Don't mention it, but consider watching it muted. (^_^)

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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    Robert A. Heinlein served as consultant to the film and who fought pretty hard to make the effects and physics as accurate as possible, based on what was known then.
    You're right, he worked hard to get it right within the limitations of what they knew and the money they had. I have a copy of the July 1950 Astounding with Heinlein's article "Shooting Destination Moon" where he discussed some of the problems they ran into. At one point he mentioned that they didn't know for sure if stars would twinkle in space. There were apparently arguments going both ways. He also discussed how difficult it was to get the lighting right (or right as they understood it) for the lunar surface, and making the spacesuits look like they were holding pressure. A "sign of the times" note: One of their big problems was enforcing a "no smoking" policy on set. Sometimes they had to reshoot scenes when the stark space or lunar scenes got a bit too smokey.

    The irony is that I've sometimes seen Destination Moon faulted for working too hard to get it right, being too technical. I guess you can't win.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." Abraham Lincoln

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    Some more trivia from IMDB:

    The panoramic view of the lunar scenery was a Chesley Bonestell painting 13 feet long, mounted on wheels and rolled past a stationary camera. To make the stars appear brightly luminous, 534 holes were punched in the painting and illuminated from behind.
    Some links to Bonestell and his paintings:

    http://www.bonestell.org/
    http://www.novaspace.com/ARTIST/ChesleyBonestell.html

    I've always loved these paintings:

    http://www.novaspace.com/LTD/BONESTELL/Titan.html
    http://www.novaspace.com/LTD/BONESTELL/Mimas.html

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    My father was working in the studio's continuity department at the time and signed on to Destination Moon. He got to meet Chesley Bonestell and others involved in the film.

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    What a lucky man. ARA Press' Wonderful book on the Spaceship handbook has a lot on the LUNA, and one chapter compares that to the Saturn V. With water instead of cryogenics--you didn't have ice and what not falling away majestically--but Luna is what you really want. Keep all your products in one big tube.

    They just didn't have the DC-X know-how then.

    http://www.rogersrocketships.com/cat...&currentpage=2

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    If you haven't seen Amazon Women on the Moon, its a spoof of cable TV programming, which contains a loving homage to Destination Moon within it.

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