Astronomy burger


So, have you seen these commercials yet?  The ones for the Burger King Steakhouse Burger?  I’ve caught three of them so far, and they are all similarly annoying, but the last one ticks me off.  I’m quoting these from memory, so these are probably not exact.

The first one I saw went something like this:  Two men are sitting in a lunchroom, eating their BK Steakhouse burgers.  A woman enters the scene, and asks one man “What did you do to earn that Steakhouse burger?”  He replies “I gave half my paycheck to charity.”   She nods happily, and then asks the second man “And what did you do?”.  The second man replies “I was just hungry.”  The woman angrily slaps the second man and calls him an arrogant and selfish jerk.  The tagline is “The steakhouse burger is so special, people will think you’re special too”.

I saw another variation a few days ago, which I frankly can’t remember.  However, last night I saw this one:

Two men are sitting at a table in a room lined with rack-mounted electronics.  On the table is a small (6- or 8-inch) Newtonian telescope.  Obviously this is *supposed* to be an observatory in a university setting.   A third man enters the scene and asks “What did you do to earn that Steakhouse Burger”.  The first man replies “I found a moon around Regulus 359, in the Crab Nebula.  It may support life”.   The third man asks the second “And you?”.  The second man replies “I helped”.  The third man angrily replies “You either *find* a new star, or you *don’t* you arrogant <bleep>”.

Of course, the point is supposed to be that these burgers are really good, and that people will expect you to have done something special to earn them.  However, this commercial grates on my nerves because of the obvious errors, so the producers and directors of this commercial get no BK Steakhouse Burger!

First of all, Regulus is a star, not a constellation.  There is no star ‘Regulus 359’.   Regulus is a particular star, the brightest star in Leo. It is a triple star system, so there is a Regulus A, B and C, but no ‘Regulus 359’.

The star ‘Wolf 359’ is in Leo, which may be where the commercial got ‘Regulus 359’.  Wolf 359 is a small, dim, red dwarf star, only about 7.8 ly away.  Regulus A is about 77.5 ly away, and is a type B star, young, hot, and also spinning very rapidly.

The ‘Crab Nebula’ is not anywhere near Leo, it’s in Taurus.   It’s also a supernova remnant, so anything “in the Crab Nebula” would be toast.

So, let’s assume that ‘Regulus 359’ is supposed to be a star, then what they discovered would be a ‘planet’, not a ‘moon’.   As far as I know, we’ve only been able to discover some extrasolar planets by the wiggle they put into their host star.   There has been some spectroscopic analysis of the reflected light from some planets, but no direct imaging.   I don’t see how we could discover a ‘moon’ at this point (but I could be wrong).

Is that supposed to be the telescope that they used?  It looks like a commercial 8-inch newt.   It would be really cool if we could image extrasolar planets from that scope, but not very damn likely.

And lastly, they can’t keep their story straight for the whole 30 seconds.  Guy #1 says ‘moon’ and guy #3 says ‘star’.  Which is it?

All in all, this commercial belongs on Phil Plait’s site as an example of bad astronomy in the media.    Sorry guys, you had an opportunity to earn that BK Steakhouse Burger, but now I have to take them away.

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10 thoughts on “Astronomy burger

  1. Pingback: Astronomy: Search The Galaxy » Astronomy burger

  2. Pingback: Astronomy Burger (updated) « AstroGeek

  3. OMG that commercial bothers me sooo much too! Glad I’m not the only one who has taken notice to this!

  4. The commercial is intended to be patently ridiculous. Kind of like when those of us in the computer industry recommend “rerouting the a drive through the CMOS to bypass the north bridge”. It sounds technical for comedic effect.

    You’re right, but you’re nitpicking unnecessarily.

  5. Mark;

    I would agree with you except that none of the other ‘BK Steakhouse’ commercials involve that level of bafflegab. In one, a person claims to have given half of his salary to charity, in another a fireman claims to have carried an injured hiker “20 klicks” (kilometers to us yanks).

    I’m left with the impression that the producers tried to make a commercial that *sounded* good, but to anyone passingly familiar with astronomy sounded like utter, inaccurate BS.

    I freely admit to nitpicking, however. 😀

  6. I appreciate, as anyone who is passionate about science and especially astrophysics, the fact that it is aggravating when people don’t do their homework. But, c’mon guy…it’s a commercial for a hamburger, not an educational foray into cosmology like Carl Sagan’s Cosmos!

    Most people freely accept much more egregious errors in all manner of movies and television programmes on the basis of ‘poetic license’ in name of entertainment. Does it really bother you that the commercial was ‘bad science’ or are you just trying to show everybody how much you know about telescopes?

    I personally like the new BK ad campaign, but that’s just my opinion.

  7. Pete:

    Oh, I realize I’m nitpicking, and being a bit silly about it too. After all, I enjoy various SciFi shows (including Doctor Who). I think that it’s just that the errors in this are so … well… *basic*. They’re so bad they grate on my ears. “moon… Regulus 275… Crab Nebula…” It’s kind of like fingernails on a chalkboard.

  8. Come on guys, get a life!

    It´s meant as a bit of light relief, and it says a lot about you guys that it upsets you so much….you really do give nerds a bad name, taking this so seriously….I bet you anoraks spend hours complaining how unrealistic Star Trek is…get some perspective in your lives, nerds

  9. Carl;

    The commercials as a whole are meant as a bit of light comedy, sure. I understand that. The thing I don’t get is why they would spend millions of dollars on making a commercial that has errors so basic that it’s like the actor held up a blue square and said that it was red, or called a Volvo a Porsche. Would that be ‘special’ too?

    What if in the first commercial the guy said “I gave half of my salary to charity… the American Nazi Party”, or if the fireman in the third one said “I carried that hiker 20 kliks on my back… and then dropped him on his head”? Would that make it “special” enough to earn a burger?

    BTW, I like SciFi, like Star Trek, Doctor Who, Firefly, etc.

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