Don’t Look Up: What the Movie Gets Right (and Wrong) About Real

If you’re planning to watch Don’t Look Up, read this first! We’re discussing what the movie gets right (and wrong) about real life astronomers.

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A meteorite is headed for Earth, and destructive changes are already happening. The movie “Don’t Look Up” trie
The climate devastation wrought by a giant asteroid in the new film “Don’t Look Up” may seem like Hollywood fiction. But some of the smaller details in the movie are based on real science — even if they’ve been exaggerated for cinematic effect.

The film, which is now streaming on Netflix, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as astronomers who discover that a giant asteroid is heading for Earth and will cause catastrophic changes when it hits. As the researchers race to warn the public and prevent mass panic, they encounter plenty of Skeptics along the way.

The plot may be far-fetched, but the filmmakers did consult with NASA scientists to ensure that at least some of the details were accurate. Here’s a look at what the movie gets right — and wrong — about asteroids and the effects of an impact.

What the movie gets right

The movie “Don’t Look Up” is a gripping tale of two professional astronomers who discover a giant asteroid on a collision course with Earth. As they race against time to warn the world of the impending catastrophe, they must also deal with the skepticism of their colleagues, the media, and the general public.

While the movie is entertainment first and foremost, it does contain some accurate portrayals of what it is like to be a professional astronomer. The film accurately depicts the boredom and routine of many astronomical observing programs, as well as the excitement and sense of discovery that comes with making a new astronomical discovery.

The movie also accurately portrays some of the challenges involved in communicating an astronomical discovery to the public. In particular, the scene in which one of the astronomers has to give a press conference amid a circus-like atmosphereructose suggests that significant discoveries often generate more media hype than scientific substance.

However, “Don’t Look Up” also contains several significant inaccuracies about astronomy and astronomers. Perhaps most egregiously, the film confuses asteroids and comets, two completely different types of objects. Additionally, while there are certainly differences of opinion among astronomers about various topics, such as whether or not extraterrestrial life exists, it is unlikely that two professional astronomers would be unable to agree on something as basic as whether or not an asteroid poses a threat to Earth.

Overall, “Don’t Look Up” is an enjoyable film that contains both accurate and inaccurate portrayals of astronomy and astrophysics. While its inaccuracies should not dissuade people from seeing it, they should be aware that not everything in the film necessarily corresponds to reality.

What the movie gets wrong

The new Netflix movie “Don’t Look Up” is getting a lot of attention for its star-studded cast. But what’s it like to be a real astronomer? We asked an expert to find out.

While the movie’s portrayal of the characters and their work is generally accurate, there are a few things that don’t quite reflect reality. For example, the telescope doesn’t actually move around ceaselessly as it does in the film. And while astronomers do sometimes have to camp out in remote locations, they don’t do so nearly as often as the movie would have you believe.

But perhaps the biggest difference between the film and real life is the ending. Spoiler alert: in “Don’t Look Up,” the asteroid hits Earth, causing widespread destruction. In reality, thankfully, that’s not likely to happen.

The science behind the movie

The new Netflix movie “Don’t Look Up” stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as astronomers who discover that a meteor is going to hit Earth in six months. As they frantically try to warn the world, they are met with skepticism and ridicule.

The movie is a comedy, but it also tries to be realistic about the science of an impending asteroid collision. So how accurate is the movie?

The short answer is: not very. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Warning: spoilers ahead for “Don’t Look Up.”

One of the biggest scientific inaccuracies in “Don’t Look Up” is the timeline. In the movie, the asteroid is discovered just six months before it’s due to hit Earth. In reality, it would take years — or even decades — to discover an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

“We have found over 95% of the really big asteroids, the ones that could cause global problems,” says Paul Chodas, director of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). “But we’ve found less than 1% of the much smaller asteroids, like the one in ‘Don’t Look Up.'”

The fictional asteroid in “Don’t Look Up” is about 150 meters wide. To have a chance of finding an asteroid that small, Chodas says we would need to scan the entire sky every night for at least five years. That’s because small asteroids move relatively quickly through our solar system, so they can be hard to track down.

The implications of the movie

In the new movie “Don’t Look Up,” two astronomers played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio discover that a giant asteroid is on course to hit Earth in six months. As they race to warn the world, they are met with skepticism, denial, and even hostility.

The movie is a work of fiction, of course, but it raises some interesting questions about what would happen if an asteroid were really headed our way. Here’s a look at some of the ways the movie gets it right — and wrong — about the science of an asteroid collision.

Right: The asteroid would be undetectable until it was very close
In the movie, the astronomers first spot the asteroid using a powerful new telescope. In reality, an asteroid of this size would be too small to see until it was relatively close to Earth.

Wrong: The astronomers would not be able to warn everyone in time
In the movie, Lawrence and DiCaprio travel around the world trying to warn people about the impending disaster. In reality, there would not be enough time to evacuate everyone before the asteroid hit.

Right: The impact would cause widespread destruction
The movie depicts the asteroid causing massive explosions and widespread devastation when it hits Earth. In reality, an impact of this size would certainly cause widespread damage and possibly even trigger a global catastrophe.

Wrong: The government would be able to do nothing to stop it
In the movie, officials are shown desperately trying to find a way to stop the asteroid but coming up empty. In reality, there are many ways that scientists could deflect or destroy an incoming asteroid, but they would need years of warning to prepare.

Don’t Look Up is a fictional story about what could happen if an asteroid hit Earth. While some aspects of the movie are accurate, it is important to remember that this is not a documentary. The film does raise some interesting questions about our ability to prepare for and respond to such a disaster, but it is ultimately just entertainment.

The future of space exploration

As any good sci-fi fan knows, one of the most important things about predicting the future is to get the science right. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the science behind the new movie “Don’t Look Up,” which imagines a team of astronomers who discover a giant asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

The film’s premise is not too far-fetched. In real life, there are dozens of asteroids that have been identified as potential threats to our planet, and astronomers are working hard to find more. But while “Don’t Look Up” gets some things right about the science of space exploration, it also makes some big mistakes.

First, let’s start with what the film gets right. The character of Professor Randall Miller, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is based on a real-life astronomer named Alan Stern. Stern is indeed one of the leading figures in the field of planetary science, and he has been instrumental in many important space missions, including the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Juno mission to Jupiter.

The film also accurately portrays the dangers posed by asteroids. Although we have never been hit by an asteroid large enough to cause global devastation, it is only a matter of time before one comes along. And as we’ve seen in recent years with events like the Chelyabinsk meteor strike in Russia and the close call by Asteroid 2012 DA14, even smaller asteroids can do significant damage if they hit Earth.

So far, so good. But where “Don’t Look Up” really starts to go off the rails is in its depiction of how we would go about stopping an asteroid from hitting Earth. In the movie, DiCaprio’s character and his team build a giant satellite designed to deflect the asteroid off its course. Unfortunately, this is not how it would work in real life.

For one thing, scientists have not yet developed technology that could be used to deflect an asteroid large enough to threaten global catastrophe. Even if such technology existed, it would be extremely difficult to deploy it in time to make a difference. And even if we could somehow manage to stop an asteroid from hitting Earth, there is no guarantee that it would simply drift off into space; it could just as easily end up lodged in our planet’s atmosphere or crashing down into one of our oceans.

In short, “Don’t Look Up” is full of holes when it comes to the science of space exploration. But despite its many flaws, the film is still an entertaining ride that offers a glimpse into what might one day be our grim reality.

The importance of public outreach

In the new movie Don’t Look Up, two scientists (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) discover that a giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. As they race to warn the world, they discover that the asteroid is not the only thing they should worry about: the public doesn’t want to hear their news, the government is more interested in damage control than prevention, and the media is more concerned with ratings than reporting the truth.

While Don’t Look Up is fiction, it raises some important questions about how we as a society deal with bad news. Do we want to know about potentially catastrophic events, even if there’s nothing we can do to stop them? Or would we rather live in ignorance, denial, and hope that someone else will deal with the problem?

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The dangers of space debris

If a movie like “Gravity” has you worried about the dangers of space debris, you’re not alone. But how worried should you really be?

The truth is, space debris is a very real and growing problem. There are an estimated 500,000 pieces of debris larger than a centimeter orbiting Earth, and tens of millions of smaller pieces. These fragments come from everything from old satellites and rocket boosters to paint chips and flecks of metal.

And while most of these pieces are tiny, they can still do a lot of damage. In 2009, an Iridium satellite was hit by a piece of debris, causing it to break apart. And in 2013, the International Space Station had to take evasive action to avoid being hit by a piece of space junk.

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to reduce the amount of space junk orbiting Earth. For example, when disposing of old satellites and rocket boosters, we can make sure they burn up in the atmosphere instead of remaining in orbit. And we can be more careful about how we dispose of other items in space, such as used rocket fuel and paint chips.

But even with these precautions, the problem of space junk is likely to continue to grow in the years to come. So if you’re worried about being hit by a piece of space debris, you might want to keep your eyes on the sky.

The need for international cooperation

The Movie: Don’t Look Up
What the Movie Gets Right: The need for international cooperation
What the Movie Gets Wrong: The timeline

In the movie, a group of scientists from around the world come together to try to stop a giant asteroid from hitting Earth. They share information and work together to build a giant spaceship that will be able to destroy the asteroid.

This is a somewhat accurate portrayal of what would happen in reality. If there was an asteroid headed for Earth, scientists would need to share information and work together in order to stop it. However, the timeline in the movie is much too compressed. In reality, it would take years, if not decades, to build a spaceship big enough and powerful enough to destroy an asteroid.


In conclusion, “Don’t Look Up” is a reasonably accurate portrayal of what it’s like to work as an astronomer. However, there are some key ways in which the movie veers off into fantasy. For example, the characters spend way too much time looking through telescopes, and they never seem to get tired or need to take a break. In reality, astronomers often use computers to analyze data, and they rarely get to look through telescopes at all. Additionally, the way the characters interact with each other is somewhat idealized; in reality, astronomers are often more focused on their work than on socializing. Nevertheless, “Don’t Look Up” provides a fun and entertaining glimpse into the world of astronomy, even if it isn’t entirely accurate.

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