What Landscape Photos Would Look Like if Planets Replaced the Moon


In the past, we’ve shared some interesting experiments that photographers and artists have done, imagining what our photos would look like if something were to be drastically different about out planet or solar system. Today, we’re adding another one to that list.

We’ve shared NASA’s prediction for what will happen to the night sky in 3.5 billion years when the Milky Way collides with Andromeda; we’ve shared what landscape pics would look like if Earth had Saturn-like rings; we’ve even shared a video that showed the night sky with planets replacing the moon.

Unfortunately, that last one was missing a few contenders, so today we’re sharing a similar project by artist Ron Miller. He took a regular old landscape photograph and replaced the moon with each of the planets in turn.

Here’s what that landscape shot would look like if we were to replace the moon with the planets, from smallest to largest:


Mars, 2-times bigger than the Moon


Venus, 3.5-times bigger than the Moon, and so bright and reflective it would make the night sky as bright as day.


Neptune, more than 14-times bigger than the Moon


Uranus, about the same size as Neptune


Saturn, almost 35-times bigger than the Moon


Jupiter, 40-times bigger than the Moon

Interesting side note: Miller actually took the original photo in Death Valley during the day, and altered it in post to make it look like it was taken at night. He also created each of the planetary illustrations (including the moon) himself, rather than using actual planetary photos.

Of course, if this were to magically happen IRL, we would have more pressing things to worry about than how our pictures would look. For instance, Jupiter would subject us to mass amount of deadly radiation, and that’s not even taking into account issues with the tides and gravitation. Still, it’s a fun thought experiment that we’re glad will never go any further than that.

(via iO9 via Photojojo)

Image credits: Illustrations by Ron Miller and used with permission

  • PreTendWebGuru

    Looks like the formatting of this page broke.. :(

  • Michael Zhang

    What do you mean? What do you see? Maybe try refreshing in case you dont have the latest style information? :)

  • jase

    His calculations are way out. Jupiter would be massively bigger than this rendering. To give you an idea, Earth is about 120 times smaller than Jupiter.

  • Banan Tarr

    The moon is 239,000 miles away. Jupiter isn’t even 90,000 miles in diameter. I’m sure his representation is pretty accurate….

  • Banan Tarr

    I wouldn’t worry… he’s just the pretend Web Guru, not the real one. ???

  • 11

    the radius of Saturn’s outer ring is comparable to distance to moon. So, we should get a perspectively deformed view of rings as the earth will be engulfed in the ring.

  • Mansgame

    I’m no fancy big city scientist but wouldn’t the gravity of those plants and the earth instantly destroy both planets if they were as close as the moon?

  • Bart Noll

    Earth is actually 1300 times smaller than Jupiter by volume. You’re thinking of surface area.

  • derrick

    That Saturn shot is awesome, Monday night football with that back drop. Think about wedding pic, nice….

  • Oskar???

    The idea is great, the result is great!
    Scientific accuracy? that’s pure hypocrisy.

  • Matthew Wagg

    I love this. Scientifically impossible but who cares about that when we have beautiful pictures.

  • madmax

    IMHO, It could be. The tidal force of the gravity would be so big to deform both planets
    significantly, the same way Moon and Sun deforms the surface of the

  • Gord

    That’s why it’s simply a thought experiment about the visual element. Not the actual physics.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    Here’s a rough approximation:

    diameter of Jupiter = 139822km
    diameter of our moon = 3474km
    distance of the moon from Earth = 384400km
    (I’m assuming this is core-to-core distance)

    angular diameter of Jupiter at the specified distance
    = 2 * arcsin((139822/2)/384400)

    angular diameter of our moon at the specified distance
    = 2 * arcsin((3474/2)/384400)

    In this image, our moon is about 18 pixels across while Jupiter is almost 500 pixels across. I’d expect Jupiter to be closer to 730 pixels. Alternatively, he could have shrunk our moon down to 12 pixels across.

    TL;DR: It’s a bit off, but I wouldn’t say “His calculations are way out”. Maybe it’s just extreme barrel distortion.

  • Mansgame

    well done.

  • harumph

    Not to be a jerk or anything, but these really aren’t very good. They’re like rough drafts of an idea that has been done better many times before. For example, here’s a guy who thought it through a little further and pulled off the technical aspects quite a bit better:

  • Daniel Thomassin

    Super merci beaucoup !

  • Justin

    umm… Mercury?

  • Gord

    No, that’s a heavily stylized, artistic interpretation of a fictional planet. Ron Miller made a straightforward attempt to portray a more realistic possibility.

    Not that that even matters considering anyone can do this multiple ways and saying it isn’t good is entirely your own subjective viewpoint.

  • harumph

    What do you mean, “No”? I’m not allowed a subjective viewpoint? And as I pointed out, plenty of people have done this in multiple ways. This above example it one of those ways, and I happen to like it better.

  • Ben Fowler

    Ways to ruin a nighttime drive with your sweetheart.. “Wow, Uranus looks huge tonight.”


  • Alan

    Actually, on the horizon each planet would be tipped almost 90 degrees. These photos would be accurate if the highway were at the North Pole. Watch the moon carefully at moonrise, at its highest, and at moonset. Or the constellation Orion. The “north-south axis” of these objects is parallel to the horizon when they are near the horizon, but perpendicular to the horizon when they are halfway between rising and setting. This apparent rotation of the object is because of the earth’s rotation.

  • Floyd

    Good for you, learn to understand aesthetic preferences instead of just barking out “this isn’t very good” because someone did it differently. Your example of a stylized artistic fiction is silly because he was going for a point of view.

  • Trenton

    That’s what happens when I run the simple 2 body simulations in Universe Sandbox. What’s more interesting is what happens when I replace the satellite most like the Moon in each of the full systems of the outer planets with the Earth. For example, take Saturn with its 61 moons and replace Dione with Earth. The Earth perturbs the inner moons and soon collides with at least 3 of the nearest moons (usually Calypso, Tethys, and Telesto). However, when Triton is supplanted by Earth in orbit around Neptune, the system is perturbed into an overall helix motion but the Earth survives. Finally, when Earth supplants the moon Io in orbit around Jupiter, the system is perturbed slightly but carries on quite well.

  • cpmanx

    Note that the images here reflect the enhanced colors of NASA images, not the actual colors the naked eye would see. To the eye, Venus is almost perfectly white; Mars is a light muddy orange; Jupiter has much more subtle pastel shades; etc.

    Also, the illumination levels shown here are way off. Yes, Venus would be brilliant in the sky, about 150x as bright as the full moon. But Jupiter in turn would be more than 100x as bright as Venus…and at that, still not anywhere as bright as the sun appears in the daytime sky. (Dimmer by a factor of 30, by my off-the-cuff estimate.)

    And hey, where is Mercury???

  • John Edwards

    where’s mercury

  • the dude

    not that you’ll read this but your stupid accounts for these different pictures are just that, different. Read the title for freak sakes and you’ll understand it wasn’t about looking cool, it was just about replacing the exact location of moon with the planets to see the comparision verses you’re img link of a graphically designed picture doesn’t seem to be identically to placing the planets core in the spot of the moons core.

    It was much less an art than it was an experiment of perception. Liking one or the other better is insignificant to the purposes they have, which are different from the get go. Ones to entertain and ones to gain a different perspective.

    I suggest everyone to stop thinking unintellegently and possibly re-read the title to an article before posting unrelated comments about it.

  • harumph

    I wrote nothing at all about how “cool” one looked versus another. I specifically pointed out that I was referring to the technical aspects–the actual Photoshop work–and not the artistic merit.

    Funny that you harp on my comment when everyone else here is harping on the scientific realism. If this is meant to be an experiment in perception, then one would think that you’d be better off arguing with the people who are saying those perceptions are off base.

    Me, I was just pointing out that the cut and paste work was lazy.

  • Volkner Tang

    Take it easy man

  • harumph

    Yes, people were insulting me and calling me stupid for calmly expressing a subjective opinion, but I’m the one who should take it easy? 2 months later? Lol.