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GrapesOfWrath
2002-Mar-03, 06:44 PM
I saw the movie A Beautiful Mind last night, and was surprised at a comment about the stars. Jennifer Connelly's character claims that she once tried to count all the stars in the sky, and she got up to 8348 (or close to something like that). I would have thought that there were a lot fewer visible stars than eight thousand (the movie showed a night sky filled with points of light, from a balcony just outside a bright ballroom), but the Yale (http://amase.gsfc.nasa.gov/amase/MissionPages/YALEBSC.html) bright (http://marylf.uoregon.edu/~chuck/StarCat/) star (http://www.willbell.com/software/hypersky/bsc5.htm) catalog (http://amase.gsfc.nasa.gov/amase/MissionPages/YALEBSC.html) lists 9110 objects brighter than magnitude 6.5. Only about 300 of them (http://www.astro.utoronto.ca/~garrison/oh.html) are third magnitude or brighter (brighter than 3.5).

Donnie B.
2002-Mar-03, 07:44 PM
Possible explanations:

1. The character wanted to show someone that she was both patient and smart, so she could count really, really high.

2. The filmmakers wanted to make this point about the character.

3. It took so long to count that high that more stars rose in the East as she counted from west to east.

4. The writer had no clue how many stars are visible in the night sky.

I'm sure there must be other possibilities... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Darasen
2002-Mar-04, 02:17 AM
or
5: She was in the Austrailian outback when she did the counting.

Darasen

David Hall
2002-Mar-04, 06:49 AM
Don't forget that there may be about 9000 visible objects, but much less than half of them will be visible at any one time. Half of them will be hidden in daylight, and even more will be completely out of reach in the opposite hemisphere from you (unless you live on the equator, where they are one and the same).

So now I'm wondering, on average, about how many stars/objects are visible in a single night of viewing? Let's say assuming you stay up from dusk to dawn on a nice summer night.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Mar-04, 09:23 AM
On 2002-03-04 01:49, David Hall wrote:
So now I'm wondering, on average, about how many stars/objects are visible in a single night of viewing? Let's say assuming you stay up from dusk to dawn on a nice summer night.
Hey, it's just about Messier Marathon (http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/messier/xtra/marathon/marathon.html) time, right? The next new moon is the time when astronomy clubs all over the world try to see all the Messier objects in a single night.

My original post was more in confirmation that she could have done it. Maybe she even used binoculars. Or a telescope. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Donnie B.
2002-Mar-04, 07:34 PM
Hey... that's cheating!

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Mar-04, 10:20 PM
Cheating? At counting stars, or at Messier Marathons? (Hmmm, I'm envisioning Rosie Ruiz looking in the wrong end of a telescope, going "M1, M2, M3, M4, M5...")

Is 6.5 the actual visual limit? I always used 6.0 as a rule of thumb, in dark skies. Burnham says (p.64) that experienced observers can get out to seventh magnitude, and in artificial tests, magnitude 8.5 has been detected against a completely dark background.

Wiley
2002-Mar-04, 10:32 PM
Less importantly, what did you think of the movie? Besides, of course BA and historical inaccuracies, was it good? I have not seen it yet, but I want to.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Mar-04, 10:39 PM
It's great, all it's cracked up to be.

Bob
2002-Mar-04, 10:47 PM
The figure I usually see for the number of visible stars from a particular point on a given night is about 3,000 or so.
I don't believe it's possible to count such patterns very high without becoming confused over whether a given star had been counted or not. Most people (self included) can't play an error free game of memory with a 52 card deck.
The "Beautiful Mind" movie left out a number of problematic aspects of Dr Nash's life which were included in the book. The character in the movie is only partly based on fact.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Mar-05, 02:30 AM
On 2002-03-04 17:47, Bob wrote:
The character in the movie is only partly based on fact.
Yeah, I would have hardly recognized him in the movie, from this account (http://www.nobel.se/economics/laureates/1994/nash-autobio.html).

Peter B
2002-Mar-05, 03:44 AM
Careful guys. You're talking about Russell Crowe here, and he's one of ours (okay, he's really a Kiwi, but when Oscars are on the line, he's Australian).

/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Bob
2002-Mar-05, 08:50 PM
On 2002-03-04 22:44, Peter B wrote:
Careful guys. You're talking about Russell Crowe here, and he's one of ours (okay, he's really a Kiwi, but when Oscars are on the line, he's Australian).

/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Careful yourself. He busted up Meg Ryan's marriage and then threw her away like an empty Fosters can.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Mar-06, 01:51 PM
On 2002-03-06 07:25, NottyImp wrote (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=682&forum=4&16#crowe):
It's fascinating the way he describes his various episodes of mental illness; a very odd use of language indeed. Not as good looking as Crowe, though, is he?

I received a copy of A Beautiful Mind in the same shipment from Amazon as the Bad Astronomy book, just yesterday.

Those photos are of when he was older. Somewhere in the book it describes him as looking like Rock Hudson, when he was younger. His personality was acerbic and strange, but he was "handsome as a god" and had a "very strong, very masculine body." (p.67)

Incredibly, it says (p.19) "A predisposition to schizophrenia was probably integral to Nash's exotic style of thought as a mathematician."

ObBA: The first page of the prologue (p.11) has Harvard professor George Mackey ask Nash how he could believe that extraterrestrials were sending him messages. "Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously."

NottyImp
2002-Mar-07, 12:23 PM
Well, my previous message can be quoted, but isn't actually there in the string. Odd.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Mar-07, 12:46 PM
On 2002-03-06 07:25, NottyImp wrote (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=682&forum=4&16#crowe):
NottyImp,
It's at the thread at the link. Just a cut and paste of info.

I do find it interesting that John Nash believed in extraterrestrial messages. That may have give up some insight as to how the beliefs become so dearly held.

NottyImp
2002-Mar-07, 01:03 PM
Doh! Thanks, Grapes.

man on the moon
2003-Jul-07, 04:25 AM
i'd just like to point out that even though they may have been outside a bright room at the moment of conversation, she wasn't counting the stars then. she could have been anywhere when she counted them. even the australian outback :wink: ! in anycase, she was referring to a previous activity, ont one she was doing at that particular moment.[/i]

glen chapman
2003-Jul-07, 01:16 PM
Okay from memory there are 7710 visible stars in the sky. That would be working of a standard 6 magnitude sky. Sure there would be a number of unresolved clusters that might present as single light points. The Jewel Box springs to mind, don't know a northern example.

Seems quiet a few places can achieve 6.5 mag - if anyone really wants to know, I can find out how many stars that presents.

Having a brightly lite ballroom behind you, wouldn't be that big a problem. If the eyes are kept away from direct light, they will still atttempt to dark adapt.

The real test of the night sky is what sort of light bubble you are observing within. For example large cities will push light well beyond their own area. Were as small towns, will have very small, well defined areas. These areas are also easy to move away from.

Just thinking back to the ballroom. A couple of years ago I was in a country town, under the most amazing sky I'd ever seen. Where we were staying, they had a flood light. I tested looking at the light, then moving into the shadow - I was shocked how quick my eyes came in. In a matter of minutes I was seeing more stars than I usually do in my regular semi-urban observing site.

Glen

tracer
2003-Jul-07, 10:05 PM
i'd just like to point out that even though they may have been outside a bright room at the moment of conversation, she wasn't counting the stars then. she could have been anywhere when she counted them. even the australian outback :wink:
And also, at no point does she say she was trying to count all the stars visible to the unaided eye in the sky. So binoculars or a telescope would not have been cheating.