The Christmas movie channels could hire me as a science consultant on scripts. My wife and I watched an otherwise enjoyable holiday flick tonight. I outlined to the young miss my problems with the science, none of which really impacted the plot or resolution of the movie. How many science blunders could I count?
- The good: a dad and daughter enjoying some telescope time. The bad: one doesn’t see constellations through such a device. The young miss knew that planets and single stars are seen in optical telescopes. Constellations are naked-eye visions. They are too large to catch whole in any kind of ordinary instrument.
- The actor playing the astronomer was serious and intelligent–quite believable. Her character’s aspiration to have a meteor shower named for her was a misstep. Those celestial events are named for the constellation that appears to be the origin of the shooting stars. Discoverers of comets get their names in astronomy history.
- Meteor showers are not local phenomena. One mountain in upstate New York might be a good location for viewing, but any rural location on that longitude would be a good viewing place. Hallmark could have set the film in Canada–that’s where they get their actors and locations, eh? South America too, but that would have interfered with the small subplot of drinking more warm beverages while the town turned its Christmas lights off.
- One plus: the interference of light pollution with serious astronomy. The bad: the remote ranger station has Christmas decorations–pretty bright. Not bad for a building shut down for the winter, at least according to earlier dialogue in the movie.
Another bit of note: the connection between a comet’s orbit and a meteor shower is relatively new science. It was a plus they got that right.
They discussed the “Christmas Star,” but don’t reference Jesus or Bethlehem by name. That was interesting.
I don’t watch movies from Hallmark and other Christmas “channels” for the science. Still fun to see a reasonably adult relationship depicted, even if the thematic elements are familiar: small town Christmas, widowed dad, career-driven woman, gifted child, engaged older grandparents.