What did you think of the Meteor movie on NBC last night?

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willpittenger

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Personally, I thought it was rather stupid to see they didn't even bother to consult any real astronomers. That lack of advice seemed rather evident. But I thought I would let to final word fall to some experts.

Brief synopsis: A comet that on screen is rather small but supposedly huge collides with Kassandra putting it on a collision course with Earth. The US government (no other governments are mentioned) has just 48 hours before the collision.

Don't read this paragraph if you want to watch it but haven't seen part 1: The movie has a lot of drama due to the apparent need of producers to boost ratings the only way they know how: violence. No, Part 1 doesn't have the post-impact stuff. Rather, one thread has a former cop having already killed his wife out to kill his former partner's father and daughter. Lots of junk like that. Another example had an astronomer trying to get from her observatory in Baja to JPL in time to be of help. But she gets waylaid a couple of times en route.

Now: Some points the producers should have asked some real astronomers before putting pen to paper:
  1. How long would it take before Kassandra would be noticed as having left its orbit?
  2. One line has someone from JPL advising his military counterpart to "destroy Kassandra before it hits the atmosphere." I know that is way too late. We would have to intercept it well before it reaches the lunar orbit and preferably before it crosses 3 AU from the impact location (not where Earth is now, but where it would be at impact). So how long would it take to cross that amount of space?
  3. What comets could knock a big asteroid out of orbit by that much? The one on screen, as mentioned, was described as a giant, but didn't look all that impressive next to Kassandra.
  4. The movie uses Patriots and Stinger anti-aircraft/anti-ballistic missiles to shoot down some of the debris from the comet collision preceding the main impactors. But could a Stinger even keep up with a meteorite? I figure Stingers (which use infrared) to hit one, the Stinger would have to be fired head on. Patriots would have the advantage of RADAR which would allow for an intercept course to be plotted in the computer (hopefully in time). However, I figure that both missiles would just trigger the equivalent of a nuclear bomb for all but the smallest impactors. But the show has the impactor simply vanishing in cloud of smoke. Puff.
  5. Is there even one observatory in the Baja area?
 
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MetalMario

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Yes, I watched it. It was nice to see a large meteor spiraling towards earth at thousands of miles an hour. But, I think that the other stories shouldn't have been included. They had nothing to do with this at all. However, from a scientific point of view, it makes me want to slap the producers in the faces. Most of the stuff they said was so general, that the meteor could have been doing ANYTHING. Also, there was too much changing from one area of California to another. I still wanna see Part 2. It's on at 9:00 EST, Sunday.
 
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willpittenger

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Well, I watched the conclusion. The writers really need to get some basic physics lessons. They had a major portion of Kassandra floating overhead like it was in a parking orbit as the leading edge glowed. Now if Kassandra was in orbit, it would cause no immediate danger. I think we know that either a impactor is going to zip right on by or come straight down. Either way, by the time it hits the atmosphere, you won't have much time to realize it if you are anywhere near the impact area.

Furthermore, if the majority of Kassandra were intact, at the moment of impact with the surface, the back end would still be out in space. Next, it was very strange how most of the impacts hit city centers and acted like they were no more than a few pounds of TNT -- that should be megatons. Lastly, how in the world were the ICBMs able to give what was left of Kassandra escape velocity?

Having said all that, the writers appear to have built in a sequel possibility. They have a character mention a possible close call in 2027. "Not that close" he says. The pass mentioned was only 200,000 miles. I figure that is within the margin of error for the calculations used. It is also within the lunar orbit. Yet the hero scientist relies on the excuse that "something could change its orbit."

Because of the sequel possibility -- or just that there might be an even stupider movie thought up -- it might be a good idea if someone posted answers to the questions above and sent a copy of this thread to the authors, producers, or someone else.
 
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MeteorWayne

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LOL,I doubt that would do any good. It's obvious there was no consideration given to science at all.

I love how a few nukes deflected it away out into space. (All I could watch was the last 15 minutes...thank God)

That's grade school physics :roll:
 
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matthewota

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I did not see the movie, but if it had the amount of valid science that "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" had, then it was not worth watching for somebody well versed in astronomy and physics. I probably would have turned the channel after the first howler.

Like my grandmother said, television is "Mostly nonsense."
 
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