A month or so ago I was picking on the new “Lion King” movie for how unrealistic was its depiction of the night sky, despite everything else in the movie seeming so realistic in appearance. Well, I have discovered another interesting critique of the “Lion King” sky. It was on the WRAL (North Carolina) Weathercenter Blog. There Tony Rice writes that
While the animals and landscapes in [the 2019 “Lion King”] are photorealistic, the sunrise that opens this shot-for-shot remake is less realistic than the hand-drawn original.
Rice compares the 1994 and 2019 versions of the movie, providing images of the sunrise from both, and noting how the 2019 version does not show the pronounced rippling effect that is seen in the 1994 version. He writes:
In the 2019 [version] the sun is rounder, nearly white and emerges smoothly above the horizon. The 1994 version shows a deeper yellow, almost orange, more flattened sun rippling its way up. The undulating effect seen in the 1994 [version] is gone in the latest version. Those ripples are created by turbulent air rising upward. This would be expected as the rising sun disturbs [and] heats the nocturnal boundary layer, air near the ground which has cooled and become very stable overnight. Air turbulence is also what makes stars appear to twinkle at night.
So here we have another illustration of how the makers of the 2019 “Lion King” neglected the sky despite their other efforts at realism. But something readers of Sacred Space Astronomy/The Catholic Astronomer might find especially interesting is that the rippling effect that Rice discusses here was discussed by a Catholic priest of the Society of Jesus and his student, more than four hundred years ago. Fr. Christoph Scheiner and his student Johann Georg Locher wrote on just this effect in their 1614 astronomy book entitled Mathematical Disquisitions. In discussing visible distortions of the disk of the sun, they wrote:
|Caussa vna & Sola est, vapores inter nos & Solem interiecti. Qui cum tota nocte terris quiete satis incubent, mane radiis solaribus excitati, calore concepto in altum enituntur, suaque fluctuatione, quia perfecte diaphani non sunt, & varie insuper figurati, multumque aquositatis admixtum gestant; Solarem conum oculis illapsum, mire carpunt, lacerant, findunt, interturbant. At vero augescente die, & eleuantur altius, & excoquuntur purius, & magis rarefiunt, congregatis vi caloris homogeneis partibus, & stabliores redduntur; hinc fit, vti Sol vespertinus communiter integrior placidiorque arrideat matutino. Haec autem ita se habere, inde manifestum euadat, quod in ipso exortus puncto Sol plerumque pacatus & aequus secundum oram ad aliquantillum temporis perseueret; paulatim vero, praecedentibus praesertim nocturnis pluuiis, exasperatus dentes ostentet graduque vacillet: quandoque etiam, constanti maxime serenitate, semper sibi similis incedat. Vnde certum maneat, hanc eius seabritiem vnico inter Solem medio esse tribuendam.||The one and only cause of this is the vapors present between us and the sun. These lie quite still over the lands throughout the night, but in the morning they are aroused by the warming rays of the sun. When heated, they rise. And, because they fluctuate and change in shape, because they are not perfectly diaphanous, because they carry water vapor in varying amounts, they agitate, cleave, mangle, and despoil amazingly the solar light that is passing through them toward our eyes. But as the day passes, the heating lifts these vapors higher, drives the water from them, and rarifies and homogenizes them, rendering them more stable. Thus the evening sun generally is more placid than the early morning sun. The morning sun, especially after a nocturnal rain, emerges from behind the horizon, spreads along it, and then, as it advances, vacillates along its edge in and out so that its edge takes on the appearance of coarse teeth. But if the weather has been most fine for some time, the sun will rise without such unevenness. From this it is certain that the unevenness of the sun must be attributed solely to the medium between it and us.|
Like Rice, Scheiner and Locher also talk about how these same properties of the air cause the twinkling of the stars. Perhaps Scheiner and Locher would cut the 2019 “Lion King” a little more slack than Rice does; hakuna mattata, they might have said, supposing that the 2019 version’s sunrise is occurring after a long period of fine weather! (Indeed, given Locher and Scheiner's remarks about rain and fine weather, could it be that the 2019 version is actually the more correct for a drier climate.) Isn’t it interesting that these two astronomers had this all worked out four centuries ago?