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A former NASA scientist ranked planet emojis based on the actual planets

By Elizabeth Rayne
NASA image of Saturn

You want to know which emoji is best to send to your crush without being too obvious? Can’t help you there. Want to know which planet emoji is the most scientifically accurate? Just ask a guy who worked for NASA.

The Twitterverse has now literally turned into the universe. James O’Donoghue, a former NASA scientist who now works for Japan’s space agency, JAXA, recently tweeted his ultimate ranking of ringed planet emojis based on how photorealistic they were, assuming these planets were trying to be Saturn. It might not be the criteria you would expect for scrutinizing a bunch of mini planet images that weren’t beamed back by a spacecraft — but it’s also strangely fascinating.

While there are more ringed planets than just Saturn out there and recent studies suggest there may even be rings around the Sun, for the sake of this emoji battle, O’Donoghue kept it to the one most people think about when they see a ringed orb. None of these may even be trying to match Saturn for all we know. Who got the coveted #1 spot? Whatsapp, which O’Donoghue said impressed him with the tilt and accuracy of the rings.

Apple ended up pretty close with its winning atmosphere.

Now the to the ones that O’Donoghue just thought were “meh” or unapologetically ripped. Facebook’s wasn’t bad, except he thought the atmosphere was sort of lacking and the rings were a little too close to the planet.

Google seemed to not have put in the effort to get the bands of Saturn just right, and the rings just weren’t wide enough.

Same thing with Microsoft’s version. O’ Donoghue wasn’t done with this one at the too-narrow rings, saying that even Google’s pretty unappealing version showed more structure than this. There wasn’t enough detail, either. At least they got the tilt right.

Now for what the scientist called “the most offensive of all.” It just had to be the one from the same platform he used to take these apart, Twitter! He feels like the planet and the rings aren’t in sync, and the rings themselves are asymmetrical. The only redeeming factor was the tilt.

Other than that, Twitter might need to rethink how it displays a ringed planet emoji.

The results are in:

Then there was this gem:

Let’s not get him started on star emojis that look nothing like actual stars.

(via Twitter)