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Oliver


Let R = { x | x ∉ x }, then R ∈ R ⟺ R ∉ R... or is it?

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Mar
20th
2016

Random thoughts about canon #7: Where the Sun don’t shine · 7:23pm Mar 20th, 2016

Celestia moves the sun. This much is not only stated ceaselessly throughout the pony lore, but is actually demonstrated empirically: When Celestia is not available, the sun does not move. If nothing else, this is proof positive that anything that can restrain Celestia can at least also stop the sun.

But what’s the actual state of pony celestial mechanics? Rika opens “Aporia” up saying “This here is the sun. And it could be a star, a painting on a celestial sphere, an artificial bubble of magic, any combination of the three, or something else entirely.”

Fanon presents examples of all of these, and more. But what does the canon say, if anything?

It’s quite inconclusive, as statements even in the primary canon are conflicting, as if they were made by multiple different authors who had a certain distaste for each other… which is actually kind of true. Let me total up every canonical statement related to celestial mechanics that I could dig up, in no particular order.

Primary canon

“Friendship is Magic”: “To do this, the eldest used her unicorn powers to raise the sun at dawn; the younger brought out the moon to begin the night. Thus, the two sisters maintained balance for their kingdom and their subjects, all the different types of ponies.” This statement opens up the series, and is never questioned or doubted. Instead, it is corroborated by numerous other sources. Whichever is fact, we can be very certain that all ponies at least believe so. Mayor Mare goes so far as to say “In just a few moments, our town will witness the magic of the sunrise,(1) and celebrate this, the longest day of the year!” Celestia also states the same verbally in Part 2: “Citizens of Equestria, it is no longer with a heavy heart but with great joy that I raise the summer sun.”

There is also the “She vowed that she would shroud the land in eternal night” line, which we’ll refer to later on.

“Owl’s Well That Ends Well”: Twilight recites a very normal-sounding statement about the nature of comets. “…fragile and diverse with a surrounding cloud of material called a coma, that grows in size and brightness as the comet approaches the sun…” which actually does not rule out any celestial model except those that would present the sun as illusory.

“Crystal Empire”: When the Crystal Heart activates, it produces an aurora all over Equestria. It is daytime in the Crystal Empire when this happens, but in the very next shot, when the aurora is visible from Ponyville and Canterlot, it is already night. Which either implies that it is possible for day and night to occur at different time in these two locations, or that the aurora’s propagation is not instantaneous, i.e. it took it at least a few hours to reach Ponyville, and the scenes are not presented chronologically. But we also know, from the official maps, that Crystal Empire and Ponyville are at least close to being on the same meridian, i.e. Crystal Empire is always presented as being directly north from Ponyville. I’m inclined to assume the limited aurora propagation speed here, but if it’s instantaneous, either the sun sets eastwards, at least this time, or the axial tilt is the opposite of ours…

“Princess Twilight Sparkle”: This one gives us a lot of little tidbits. For starters, during the conversation between Twilight and Celestia regarding Luna, the moon is shown to be rising very fast. It is difficult to estimate the angular speed exactly because of the camera shenanigans, but it basically takes at most a few minutes for the moon to reach its highest point in the sky, where it stops. This particular instance could be dismissed as a narrative device, but it is repeated at the end of the two-parter when the same thing happens for the celebration.(2) Notably, sun rises and the moon sets on the same side of the horizon this time, when in the beginning of the episode, the sun was absent from the shot. The presence of the sun and the moon in the sky simultaneously – perfectly stationary! – is seen as a sign of disaster by every single pony shown.(3) Further statements include that eclipses are physically possible, as this is what happens in the flashback.

“Twilight’s Kingdom”: Twilight, imbued with the combined power of four princesses, doesn’t just move the sun and moon simultaneously,(4) she wiggles them unsteadily across the sky like a drunk father playing with his son’s toy cars, moving them in bizarre trajectories, which make it impossible for them to be set on any sort of rails, and performs the process within seconds. Which basically means that the sun doesn’t rise in the East, but wherever the princess says it does.

This episode also indirectly gives us an an estimate of Celestia’s peak power output, or rather, an upper limit on it. It all starts when Twilight makes a crater… The diameter of the crater created during the battle with Tirek when their magical beams collide and explode does not exceed a hundred meters, given what we know about pony size scales. Which puts Tirek’s peak energy output(5) at something like 1014 joules, or, in more accessible terms, equivalent to a 23 kiloton nuke at the highest.(6) Depending on what exactly the magical blast is most like, the actual energy involved may be a lot lower. At the moment, Twilight wields the power of four princesses, and has no particular reason to hold back any of it. Even accounting for the fact that they both walked away from this, and thus had to have expended some energy on defense, you can’t really push this energy output boundary more than an order of magnitude higher. And even then, it still translates into solar mass topping out at tens of tons, or orbital speeds topping out at the speed of an unladen swallow. That is, nonsensically low.

The only explanation that permits anything approaching a sensible sun is that the sun’s own energy is expended in moving it, rather than Celestia’s, and all the energy of the sun-moving spell goes towards invoking this.

“Secret of my Excess”: Among the numerous objects Spike is lusting after in this episode is a large, prominent globe, depicting a spherical planet with insufficient detail to match it to any extant maps.(7) While this object is never seen before or since, it prominent in the scene it appears in and is clearly meant to symbolize Spike wanting “everything.”

“Hearth’s Warming Eve”: Spike’s narration says “The unicorns demanded the same, in return for magically bringing forth day and night.” while at the same time, the play is set before the ponies discovered Equestria. Which is essentially a statement that being an alicorn princess is not a requirement to move celestial objects. Pinkie, playing Chancellor Puddinghead, says: “I got a newsflash for you, Cookie. The Earth is round. There is no up or down.” Which is a statement that is only true on a spherical planet, or a planet believed to be spherical.(8)

“Daring Don’t”:(9) Fortress of Talacon is supposed to be capable of unleashing “800 years of unrelenting heat”. Even though the effect is supposedly localized to the valley in which it is located,(10) it is most likely to only be possible(11) if it can directly affect the sun itself or the control over the sun – for example, by increasing its output. Which basically reiterates that Celestia’s control over the sun is not a monopoly.

Secondary canon

With most of the primary canon sources exhausted, we can proceed onto the comics:

The Return of Queen Chrysalis Arc (Friendship is Magic #1-4): The events of this arc are punctuated by the arrival of “Secretariat Comet”(12) which is supposedly an event that happens once every three thousand years.(13) This event is believed to be highly magically significant, and results in a surge of magical power in magical creatures, most notably in Twilight and Chrysalis, but also in others – for example, it triggers an invasion of mutant cockatrices.

Nightmare Rarity Arc (Friendship is Magic #5-8): The plot of this story arc involves traveling to the moon, and creates a bunch of interesting statements:

  • It is possible to use magic to elongate a rope sufficiently to encircle the entire moon. It takes a Celestia to do, but it’s possible.
  • When seen from the rope and the moon, Earth appears spherical.
  • Moon has phases.
  • Moon has gravity and an atmosphere.
  • It’s possible that vacuum doesn’t exist at all. Even though Pinkie says “In space, no one can hear you squee!” she later comments “They were wrong, I totally heard that!” – but at the same time, the moon has been deliberately brought as close to the surface of the Earth as possible, and they aren’t even out of the clouds yet when she says that.

It should be noted that nowhere in primary canon it is explicitly said that the moon has phases, and it is entirely unclear how it is even possible for a moon to have phases at all, given what the primary canon seems to imply.

Reflections Arc (Friendship is Magic #17-20):

Further confirms that the moon has phases, as Luna refers to them explicitly.

Night of the Living Apples Arc (Friendship is Magic #32-33): Depicts Earth as spherical once again, and implies behavior of orbiting trash consistent with Newtonian physics, namely, shards of debris dislodged during the battle between Celestia and Nightmare Moon, magically charged, continued orbiting for a thousand years, until they subsequently reentered the atmosphere.

Tertiary canon

And now, the gem of the collection:

Journal of the Two Sisters: I have a love-hate relationship with this book. I hate it, because it creates a canon consistency problem with every other page. I love it, because I love clever solutions for consistency problems, especially if it was me making one. Anyway. This book presents us with those interesting statements:

  • Celestial motion is accomplished via specialized magic spells, and it is possible, at least in theory, to teach those to any magic user.
  • The normal unicorn practice of doing this before Celestia and Luna took over the duty was to use a group of six unicorns, with one primary caster and five supporting casters. Star Swirl the Bearded was the primary caster in all cases described. The supporting casters can only withstand the procedure a number of times, before suffering complete magic disability, the text appears to imply that the usual number of times a unicorn can participate is two. Star Swirl himself is an anomaly, but whether this is due to the particulars of how the spell works or because he is unusually strong is unclear. Attempting to solo the procedure caused premature aging and a similar magical disability in Star Swirl without actually moving the moon.
  • A spell to move the stars exists. No pony on record is capable of casting it, not even Luna.
  • Alicorns have a special affinity to magic for moving celestial objects, and perform it with positive energy balance. That is, they gain energy by moving celestial objects, rather than expend it.

Analysis

The total weight of evidence precludes the possibility of the sun and moon being anything but magical constructs of some kind. In fact, it precludes the possibility of Equestria being located on a normal planet as well. The only way it all converges in one place that I can produce is like this:

  • It is very tempting to conclude that the Earth of Equestria is actually flat and imagine the corresponding turtle and elephants, because it would simply work far more naturally when the sun and moon behave like this. However, all levels of canon appear to insist that it is in fact a spheroid, with varying levels of certainty.
  • Equestria’s Earth is small, likely even smaller than, say, Kerbin, and its gravity does not obey normal physics either.
  • Equestria’s Moon is even smaller than Kerbin’s, likely does not exceed a hundred kilometers in diameter, is positioned very close to the planet, and is likewise crazy and an insult to both Newton and Kepler, because when not being driven, it is not in motion and is not affected by the gravity of the planet.
  • The same applies to the sun, which is likewise small, possibly the same size as the moon, and is therefore not thermonuclear in nature.
  • The energy to move these celestial objects is acquired from whatever mysterious means they use to maintain reasonable gravity, they are essentially self-propelled. Tapping into this energy to command the celestial object to move is a feat of magic on the scale of a small nuclear explosion.
  • The motion of celestial objects is not orbital in nature. They are rotated around the planet like lamps on a pantograph suspension, instead. Possibly, a certain limited amount of inertia is involved, but otherwise, manual sunset and sunrise are required in all cases.
  • Comets do move orbitally, like space debris, but they are not actually balls of frozen gas. They are instead shards of frozen magic, or a similar oddity.
  • What tides? The ponies never, ever mention them.
  • Lunar phases are a change in the moon’s natural luminosity, likely prompted by whatever magical processes occur within, like a rotating core. They have nothing to do with albedo, because the moon shines by itself. The frequent usage of the term ‘moon’ as a measure of time implies they are in some way magically significant and form a useful timekeeping cycle.
  • The side of the planet directly opposite Equestria is relatively inhospitable, and possibly even uninhabitable, because there are places there where the sun, at least occasionally, don’t shine. Because the sun’s path across the sky is whatever the Princess wanted it to be today, and it can backtrack if she likes, and clearly, sometimes does.
  • There is no evidence anyone has ever been capable of moving individual stars, or that it is actually possible at all, which implies that it is possible for the Equestria “planetary system” to exist within otherwise normal space.

In short, gravity doesn’t exist, the Earth sucks. Needless to say, it is impossible for such a planetary system to exist without the involvement of a Fausticorn or any other sufficiently advanced aliens or deities.

Consequences

There are some interesting consequences of the model described above for horse writing in terms of dramatic opportunities:

  • When Nightmare Moon says “eternal night,” the only way she can achieve it planetwide is by producing an eternal eclipse, wherein the moon and the sun are lined up and the sun is pushed as far from the planet as possible. It should be possible to set it up in such a way that the corona is not visible.
  • It is possible for a sufficiently large and determined group of unicorns to achieve the same if they can temporarily disable the princesses. It is likewise possible for anyone sufficiently magically powerful, like Chrysalis or Tirek, to take over the job on a permanent basis, particularly if they can eat Celestia’s power. Celestia and Luna are ultimately replaceable, even if this would be inefficient. In fact, disabling Celestia permanently and taking over her job would be an ultimate victory for Chrysalis, because then she could simply demand tribute from anyone who likes sunshine.
  • While powerful, to the tune of being a strategic weapon, alicorns are not deities in any reasonable sense of the word.

Whew. What a mess…

(1) Emphasis mine.
(2) This makes all the interpretations that imply that the princesses correct the orbital path of Newtonian stellar objects outright impossible and rules out the possibility of them being anything planetoid-scaled.
(3) Notice that how exactly did the sun reappear in the sky after Celestia supposedly put it away remains unknown. When she’s done conversing with Twilight about Luna and subsequently kidnapped by the plunder vines, it’s night, and Twilight notices nothing untoward.
(4) And again, on the same side of the horizon.
(5) Assuming that exactly half of the energy that created the crater came from Tirek, because Tirek is shown as evenly matched to Twilight as possible.
(6) For the record, I used this calculator to come up with that estimate.
(7) Post-publication addendum: Episodes in season 6 have been consistently using globes and associating them with Starlight Glimmer. Notably, both Hearth’s Warming Tail and Every Little Thing She Does contain globes. A Celestial Advice contains a flashback including a globe in a class. Even more importantly, the earliest globe in the series is actually in the background of the Ponyville schoolhouse in Call of the Cutie within the first five seconds of the episode.
(8) Admittedly, it is uttered by Pinkie, and appears to be part of the theatrical interpretation of the play, rather than scripted, so it’s hardly very trustworthy.
(9) I remembered this one after I initially posted this, however, it actually does not invalidate any of my conclusions – in fact, if anything, it supports them even better.
(10) “You’re dooming the valley to eight centuries of unrelenting heat!”
(11) Yet another thing edited after the initial posting. A few weasel words here, to be honest, but as The Grey Pegasus aptly pointed out in the ensuing discussion, it is possible for the effect to be atmosphere based rather than solar based, in which case this has no bearing on celestial mechanics.
(12) Named after this guy, apparently, which is delightfully nonsensical.
(13) It is unclear how exactly the ponies are even aware it’s a repeatable event, because all my best efforts at producing a consistent canonical pony chronology so far resulted in a time span no longer than 1500 years.

Report Oliver · 1,923 views · Story: Aporia · #canon research
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Comments ( 31 )

Wow... Okay, there's a lot to cover here, and I'm not likely to catch all the potential topics initially.

First, I definitely agree that the sun and moon would be magical constructs. Their absolute mass is likewise quite low and they are based more on magical energy than matter.

I found the idea of moon phases to be incredibly compelling. Especially as a timekeeping device. What if the inhabitants of this planet used "moons" to measure time because moon phases were the only reliable periodic astronomical phenomenon. Years seem to be meaningless. Because a year in real life is the orbit around the sun, years are in fact impossible in Equestria because nothing orbits the sun. And since the sun is not on rails, it wouldn't affect the seasons either.

So if we imagine the moon as a hollow physical sphere, its mass could be quite low despite its size. If it were self-luminating, but only shone on one half of the sphere, then the moon's rotation would determine its phase. Being hollow might also account for being able to be imprisoned "in" the moon.

pre09.deviantart.net/9775/th/pre/i/2014/326/b/1/commission__luna_and_the_cmc_by_silfoe-d86zvfu.jpg

Incidentally, a total solar eclipse would be possible with this model if the moon were set in front of the sun and made to rotate so its luminous side were facing toward the sun away from the planet. The only problem with the model of lunar phases I'm suggesting is the idea of sidereal months. This goes away if the planet itself does not actually rotate, but stays fixed relative to the surrounding starfield. There may be no reason at all for planetary rotation.

Regarding the differences between sun and moon: While I'd imagine the moon as a hollow sphere with one half of it emitting light, I imagine the sun as an energy shield surrounding a singularity that emits a crazy amount of light and heat in all directions.

As for seasons, I suggest these are magical phenomena. Cloudsdale is demonstrated as being mobile and can control the seasons locally. I think it's reasonable that it could be winter in one part of Equestria and summer in another part. Seasons would therefore be entirely independent of the sun's motion, although I'd still suspect that if the sun were held over one spot on the land long enough, that winter would abate regardless of seasonal control factors. This also helps explain the show's inexplicable disregard for timely seasons or tangible "years" as the show progresses.

I don't think it's necessary to abandon the spherical planet model and go for a quasi flat-earth type of thing. Whatever is happening on the Equestrian side of the world would simply be mirrored opposite on the other side. That doesn't make it inhospitable. In order for balance to be achieved on the pony side, it would likewise be counterbalanced on the opposite side. Interestingly, if I recall, in Fallout: Equestria, the zebras were on the opposite side of the planet and their hatred of Nightmare Moon was borne out of it being eternal day on their side of the world, thus scorching crops, etc. (I could be entirely mistaken, it's been a long time since I read it) Granted, this has nothing to do with canon, but I found it an interesting concept.

Most importantly, I think propulsion is an important topic. It's important because the amount of energy expended to move the sun and moon needs to be explained in light of the alicorn sisters portraying relatively mundane levels of strength in everyday life. Canterlot Wedding, anyone? *sigh*

I've gone to great lengths to reconcile this apparent dichotomy of power. My metaphysics model is likely one of the most complex in all the fandom. But even with the power I afford the wild alicorns, it would not be anywhere close to sufficient to move planetoid bodies around in the sky. Anyone with that level of power would be literally omnipotent. So it is certain that there must be some sort of external mechanism which moves the sun and moon about in the sky, and the sisters merely access that mechanism via their unique abilities. I'll go ahead and say that it takes a few thousand times as much strength as a typical unicorn can achieve to move the sun or the moon. But even that is just the power it takes to access the external mechanism which itself has several orders of magnitude more power.

mlpforums.com/uploads/post_images/img-289563-1-celestia_goes_supernova_by_nightshroud-d4ckhkn.jpg

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I found the idea of moon phases to be incredibly compelling. Especially as a timekeeping device.

There is a lot of confusion in canon on how long a "moon" is, it's actually a mess worse than what I described here, and now I guess I'll have to make another research post on that too. They appear to have been initially coined for Equestria Girls to deal with the time problems of "Pedestria" (What else do you call that place?) and have since crept in back into the primary TV series, almost becoming a preferred measure of time, because someone told them they suck at keeping their chronology straight. All the prior episodes use years, months, and even days of week.

So my guess is that "moons" are more likely to be an archaic measure of time, established when Equestria wasn't quite so polished yet, and possibly, like you suggest, preferred because at the time it was invariably more reliable, as it did not involve ponies doing it. Since then, moons appear to be used when referring to diplomatic negotiations, ("Party Pooped") magical cycles ("Princess Twilight Sparkle", "Equestria Girls") and certain animal-related cycles. ("Pinkie Apple Pie", "Trade Ya") The only exception I see without dipping into the comics is Coco Pommel in "Made in Manehattan," who might just be slightly weird that way.

If it were self-luminating, but only shone on one half of the sphere, then the moon's rotation would determine its phase.

I thought about rotation too, but the problem with it is that as far as I could remember, every episode uses the same moon sprite. :) If the moon were to be rotating, the marks on it would have to move, but instead, only shading changes, if that.

The details of what imprisonment "in" the moon means are handled by the comics: Moon has a populated cave system.

I imagine the sun as an energy shield surrounding a singularity that emits a crazy amount of light and heat in all directions.

Neat idea, I'm swiping that. :)

I think it's reasonable that it could be winter in one part of Equestria and summer in another part.

It is. However, years and months are referred to, and Summer Sun Celebration and the prophecy of Nightmare Moon clash with it rather badly, and imply that a stable yearly cycle has to exist.

This also helps explain the show's inexplicable disregard for timely seasons or tangible "years" as the show progresses.

This is actually best dealt with by positing anachronic order of episodes. Those are the only way to explain how all of the events of three (or was it four? I forget) seasons squish into one year anyway, which is said explicitly.

Interestingly, if I recall, in Fallout: Equestria, the zebras were on the opposite side of the planet and their hatred of Nightmare Moon was borne out of it being eternal day on their side of the world, thus scorching crops, etc. (I could be entirely mistaken, it's been a long time since I read it) Granted, this has nothing to do with canon, but I found it an interesting concept.

This is also used in numerous other notable pieces, not just F:E. Which just goes to show that canon does not always provide the best dramatic opportunities. However, the goal of this series of posts is primarily to determine which ones it does provide, not to tell anyone at all ever what sort of stories they should be writing. (If GhostOfHeraclitus tried to run his stories in a universe I describe here, they just wouldn't be anywhere as good or as funny as they are, and the same can be said for numerous other excellent works.) If anything, they're more to explain why, for my story, am I making decisions that seem odd: Because that's what the canon actually says. Why am I trying to follow the canon as strictly as possible? It's a plot point, or rather, a long twisted line. ;)

And they might be useful for anyone who is actually curious where canon stops and fanon begins. From the greater fiction point of view, however, there are no reasons to prefer one over the other.

But even that is just the power it takes to access the external mechanism which itself has several orders of magnitude more power.

I mention Kerbin for a reason here. While out of universe, the unusual properties of the solar system the little green frogsmen live in have obvious technological reasons, and in-universe they remain unexplained, the best fan theory is that most of the planets in the Kerbol system are built around micro black holes. Which, if appropriately harnessed, can produce enough power for that and leave enough power to run magic every which way you like.

every episode uses the same moon sprite. :) If the moon were to be rotating, the marks on it would have to move, but instead, only shading changes, if that.

Yes, I thought of that as well. Especially given the "mare in the moon" image. However... this could be overcome via projection. Imagine if the moon's surface were smooth, thin, and translucent like a ping pong ball. And on the interior, there is a light source similar to the sun but smaller. There could be a "projection" mask which points toward the planet regardless of the moon's rotation. It would provide the appearance of texture and also explain why the craters somehow moved just because Nightmare Moon was there (or left).

The details of what imprisonment "in" the moon means are handled by the comics: Moon has a populated cave system.

Interesting. I haven't actually read the comics, so I'm unfamiliar.

Neat idea, I'm swiping that. :)

Here's a quote from my interlude. :twilightsmile:
It is said that the very first alicorn once poked a hole in the Aether. When its vast, blinding energy poured forth into the physical world, he wrapped an enormous shield around it. This shield full of raw energy brought warmth and comfort to the world, and came to be known as the sun.

Metaphysics is something which one must reveal very gradually in a complex story, lest the readers get overwhelmed. It's tricky stuff! I try to spread it out as much as possible because exposition is inherently boring.

years and months are referred to, and Summer Sun Celebration and the prophecy of Nightmare Moon clash with it rather badly, and imply that a stable yearly cycle has to exist.

Then they would be provided by decree rather than by astronomical phenomena. Again, nothing orbits the sun, so there's no "natural" way to explain seasons. Hmm... come to think of it, I can't even imagine how geocentric cultures of centuries past explained the seasons! :twilightoops:

Or... perhaps the planet rotates once per year! That would provide a very stable measure of time which is entirely independent of the sun and the moon. The position of fixed stars in the sky would determine the time of year. I actually like that idea better. You could even throw in some directional cosmic background radiation to "warm" one side of the planet more than the other, thus creating seasons.

one year anyway, which is said explicitly

Wait, what?? Is the "five seasons in one year" theory actually canon?

That would sure explain why the Cake babies haven't aged. Or why it took so blasted long for the CMC to get their cutie marks. But holy cow that's a lot of events to happen in one year! The survival of Equestria must be at stake every second month!

Of course, that makes it even more perplexing that somehow Flurry Heart will show up at the start of season six when the pregnancy was only just announced near the end of season five. So we're talking about a nearly Battlestar Galactica scale time skip here.

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However... this could be overcome via projection. Imagine if the moon's surface were smooth, thin, and translucent like a ping pong ball.

Clever, but Nightmare Rarity arc makes short work of that. The moon has a very obviously pockmarked surface.

Then they would be provided by decree rather than by astronomical phenomena.

Presumably, they are. :) To quote my own story:

Mary looked back at Pinkie. "Suppose that I lived through this year to the end, with no birthday party in sight, and it's the last day of the year. December 31st in your calendar, is it?"

"There are only thirty days in a month, Mary, even little fillies know that!" Pinkie bubbled, instantly switching away from the slightly threatening expression she had just moments ago.

Months with equal lengths that exist purely for the convenience of subdividing a year, no leap years, none of that adjusting to physics...

The position of fixed stars in the sky would determine the time of year.

Clever! And looks like the option to use that is still open for me.

Is the "five seasons in one year" theory actually canon?

In so far as I can tell, yes -- not five, I believe, but at least three, I don't remember exactly since I don't keep the entire timeline in memory past season three. I'll have to track down all the references to make yet another post, won't I... :) Not today, though.

But holy cow that's a lot of events to happen in one year! The survival of Equestria must be at stake every second month!

Like I said elsewhere, ponies of the main cast live unusually dense lives. It might not have always been like that, though. In particular, in FIENDship is Magic #5, when discussing Chrysalis' past exploits, which are conveniently dated in a large part to "A thousand years ago," Spike hangs a lampshade on it: "Why is it always 1000 years ago? Must have been one heck of a year."

For one reason or another, 1000 years was used as a convenient period to seal a lot of evil in a can at once immediately before the advent of Nightmare Moon and soon afterwards. The intervening period has been much less densely eventful for the most part.

So we're talking about a nearly Battlestar Galactica scale time skip here.

They have certain out of universe reasons to do it. For example, I remember statements that Applebloom's voice actress simply grew out of Applebloom's age...

I guess this will be settled fairly soon though.

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Well, I for one, welcome the possibility of teenage CMC for once. I've always thought the missing age group was a bit weird. It's like there are only four ages of ponies. Babies, 10-year-olds, adults, and elderly. Sweetie Belle's flashback brought 5-year-olds. But I'm not sure if we've seen legitimate teenagers yet. Except maybe "Pearly Whites".

The CMC do seem 2-3 years older than when the show started, though. So I have to credit them for that. And yeah, the voice actors growing up would make a difference for sure. No more Squeaky-Belle. And Apple Bloom's voice is definitely changing. But if the Cake twins are still infants when Flurry Heart is flying around... then heads will roll. :twilightangry2:

The thing I've discovered when writing is that you have to make your story true to itself more than bound to parent canon. Especially when canon contradicts itself at times. I've taken a fair number of specific liberties in my AU which I believe have all improved the backstory. Things go waaaaay back several thousand years. I explain the origins of Everfree (and why it was named that). Everything from "why did the sisters build a castle there" to "how did zebras get the same kind of dark magic Sombra had" to "what is the purpose and nature of the tree/elements of harmony" are all explained.

It's enjoyable to find ways to make all the sloppy elements of the show fit together in a consistent, compelling way. But at the end of the day, some items simply need to be discarded. Probably the biggest discarded element for me was Tirek. He's simply incompatible with my metaphysics model. Likewise, the crystal castle in Ponyville is gone as a result, and I can't say I'm sorry for that.

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But I'm not sure if we've seen legitimate teenagers yet. Except maybe "Pearly Whites".

Strictly speaking, we have very few visual clues regarding a pony's age at all. For example, consider Twilight Velvet in "A Canterlot Wedding". Then remember she's somewhere between forty and fifty...

I have no idea what makes Starlight Glimmer seem older than the Mane 6, though, it's possible they just finally got good enough at expressing it for me to notice.

Things go waaaaay back several thousand years. I explain the origins of Everfree (and why it was named that). Everything from "why did the sisters build a castle there" to "how did zebras get the same kind of dark magic Sombra had" to "what is the purpose and nature of the tree/elements of harmony" are all explained.

Don't ever read "Journal of the Two Sisters," then. Just don't. :) The reaction will likely be something like "I paid X for that piece of ... of... fanfic, and it has everything wrong!"

Reading it was what convinced me that at DHX, inmates have been running the asylum for at least a season and possibly a bit longer.

3818460 I actually did buy that book for my daughter a while back as "bedtime stories" going through the diaries. It's not particularly impressive, and it has a different headcanon I don't really like. But as a hardcopy book, it's presented well. I just wish the printed material Hasbro put out was even halfway as good as the show. There's this one hardcopy book I got for her that is a picture book representing the pilot episode. With Nightmare Moon. I couldn't believe how bad it was. Like... literally the story was factually incorrect in almost everything. To the point where if it weren't published by Hasbro, I'd expect Hasbro to sue whoever made it for butchering the story so badly.

Again, canon comes with a grain of salt. Especially if they can't keep their own story straight. I prefer to make stories for reasonably intelligent grown-ups. :twilightsmile:

3818543

I couldn't believe how bad it was. Like... literally the story was factually incorrect in almost everything. To the point where if it weren't published by Hasbro, I'd expect Hasbro to sue whoever made it for butchering the story so badly.

It could very well have not been published by Hasbro, but by a contractor. I've had run-ins with companies like these, and the situation is usually that a copywriter gets a bunch of art and no introduction to the source material whatsoever. And a very short deadline...

3818322
On the fascinating subject of ponies' ages, I thought I'd throw my disjointed ideas into the mix. I reckon, and have done so for a while, that when the show started, the mane six were somwhere around the 16-17 mark. Now, hear me out.
One would think that the ages in the pony-universe and the Equestria Girls universe would be roughly equivalent - and yet, the girls are still in high school. I'm no expert on the American system, but I'm approaching the end of my final year in English high school, and I've just turned 18. I assume that this is about the same in the EQG universe, as it's remarkably similar to ours. This poses two posibilities:
1) There is some slight time/age shift, maybe for all characters, maybe just some - presumably the latter, as the CMC and the adults seem about the age you would expect them.
2) Pony society differs in its educational system, and most ponies are employed as soon as they achieve any vestiges of maturity.
Now, this last theory may seem a little far-fetched... or maybe lots of other people have already proposed it. I don't read enough forums (Fora?) to know. It makes sense to me, though. Remember, it wasn't too long ago that most people would leave school at the age of about 14 - I seem to remember reading somewhere that Tintin was meant to be about that age in the early books. In Germany, thanks to the streaming system they have, it's still quite commonplace, depending on whether you incline towards the physical or academic side of things. It was especially common to get an apprenticeship at that age, and don't forget that Pinkie is an apprentice baker.
Equestria has certainly a very traditional and old-fashioned society - computers exist (Twilight has some in her basement) but ponies don't use them; steam trains are still used; and so on. It seems to me, therefore, perfectly reasonable that Twi and Co. should be of an age where, in our world, they would still be at school. An all-round education must seem pretty pointless when you've got a picture on your bum telling you exactly what you were put on Earth (or in Equestria) to do.
I feel that Twilight is the only exception to the 'you're old enough, so get a job' rule. At the beginning of the show, she was still Celestia's student, just as one might expect from a pony as gifted as her - remember, her talents are mainly mental, so she's perfectly justified in her further studies.

Oh, and on the subject of justification, it's just occurred to me that I'm posting this in a discussion about something else entirely. Whoops. I'd better slip in my opinions on celestial bodies.
I reckon Celestia just keeps their unnamed planet (let's call it Terra), of whose landmass Equestria accounts for a sizable chunk, spinning round the sun. She would tell her citizens, but it would blow their tiny minds.

A tremendous analysis! :pinkiehappy:

I, myself, think that the princesses don't move the celestial objects by simple telekinesis. If they could do as much, they could throw continents at things they didn't like much. Instead, I suspect that the celestial objects can be compelled to move on their own power by a skilled caster: Celestia doesn't lift the sun, so much as she cues it. Indeed, I even like the positive energy balance idea from the Two Sisters thing you mentioned.

In my own world, Treaties of Dawn and Dusk compel Celestia to always move the Sun across a pre-set path that makes sure that everyone gets a fairly apportioned amount of sunshine. Though what with all the magical mayhem lately, the treaties have taken a bit of a drubbing.

I actually have a really really really really complicated explanation for how the Sun/Moon thing works but it's actually based on a crossover of all things and the annoying thing is that I can't reveal it to anyone because to do so would be to thoroughly spoil Fallen London[1]. This is frustrating, because I think it is really cool. It even explains Discord and why Celestia wanted to redeem him and everything. It's my favorite bit of elaborate solution to nerdish problems.

[1] Which, hey, if you haven't played it...

3819475

My go-to response when anyone suggests that the mane-six were high-school aged.

Seriously, though, there's no evidence whatsoever in the show that they were in that category. Regardless of what absolute number you put on the ages, the representation we see in the show is that they are all young adults. None of them have mentors (except Twilight with Tia) and Rarity is an actual business owner. All live on their own with no hint that they are "just starting" to get the hang of independent living.

3819491 Oh, fair enough. I haven't the time or energy to devote to an in-depth analysis of the plausibility of... I forget the point. I'm going to walk away from this one. Fair enough? :pinkiesmile:

3819475

computers exist (Twilight has some in her basement) but ponies don't use them;

There isn't actually any evidence that they do. This is repeated often, but as far as I can tell, the only evidence cited is the device shown in "Feeling Pinkie Keen". Which demonstrates no behavior more complex than a steam-powered electroencephalograph, which is probably what it is, adjusting for the fact that it is probably supposed to measure magical, rather than electrical activity of the body. The first examples of that popped up in our world in 1924, i.e. around the same time as condenser microphones like the one Twilight uses in "A Canterlot Wedding". It may permit collecting other data, but in general it's a pre-computer technology and does not require a digital computer to work. It graphs stuff on a stream of paper and shows it on oscilloscope-style tubes. That's enough to do a lot of clever stuff, but computing is not on the list.

The same applies to Vinyl's rig, by the way, it's possible for it to be done with pre-WWII tech, even if the ideas are kind of anachronistic.

3819488

that I can't reveal it to anyone because to do so would be to thoroughly spoil Fallen London

I actually dropped Fallen London back when it was new and they just allowed players to purchase ships. Too grindy for me. :) Use a spoiler tag?

CCC

Oooooh, a very nice analysis.

Something I did notice, though...

When the Crystal Heart activates, it produces an aurora all over Equestria. It is daytime in the Crystal Empire when this happens, but in the very next shot, when the aurora is visible from Ponyville and Canterlot, it is already night. Which either implies that it is possible for day and night to occur at different time in these two locations, or that the aurora’s propagation is not instantaneous, i.e. it took it at least a few hours to reach Ponyville, and the scenes are not presented chronologically.

There is a third option; that the aurora simply continued to be displayed for several hours straight. That it was first visible from Canterlot/Ponyville in the daylight, and then still visible at night.

3820847

There is a third option; that the aurora simply continued to be displayed for several hours straight.

Actually, the shot in Ponyville shows the aurora propagating across the sky, so no, that isn't possible.

There is another sub-option which I did miss initially: The official map is actually upside down, and north is south. :) However, I've mostly included this whole scene in the list because I have seen it used as an argument for the position that Equestria's Earth is spherical. Since primary canon sources do corroborate this statement, and secondary canon sources treat it pretty much as gospel, I expect there can be little doubt about this by this point, so there's no need to sweat on the peculiarities of the sun's usual path across the sky.

Curse you! You've out-nerded me this time, Oliver. But I'll be back!

3821599
Having made a cursory study of your blog posts for the past year, I shudder to think of the singularity of knowledge that is now sure to ensue. :pinkiegasp:

CCC

3820866

Maybe it propagated across the sky and then dissipated several times before it was done. Like a fireworks show.

But yeah, the idea that the Equestrian world is spherical is far better justified by other sources, so that doesn't really change any of those conclusions.

When Nightmare Moon says “eternal night,” the only way she can achieve it planetwide is by producing an eternal eclipse, wherein the moon and the sun are lined up and the sun is pushed as far from the planet as possible. It should be possible to set it up in such a way that the corona is not visible.

Luna seems to do exactly that in Princess Twilight Sparkle, when she raises the Moon and moves it to block the sun, turning the day into night.

3867715

Indeed. The corona is still visible, though, but I imagine she expected deal with that bit when she's done with subduing Celestia, and free to move the sun without interference.

You missed a major piece of cosmological evidence that throws everything out of whack. In Sonic Rainboom, Rarity flies up, and two things happen:

1. The heat of the sun is greater than the flash point of gossamer and morning dew.

2. Her shadow covers the entirety of Cloudsdale Colosseum.

I don't have to tell you what this means. It certainly rules out the possibility of any solar eclipse, at least without catastrophic consequences.

This is a fantastic analysis. I had suspected a lot of similar things (the sun and the moon are tiny Discworld-styled objects, they are controlled by ancient magic that Celestia just steers, being an alicorn lets you gain energy rather than lose it moving these bodies) but I had never realized that Equestria itself also had to be tiny. Thanks for opening my eyes like that!

A few additional bits: If Anubis in the comics used to move the sun and moon long ago, then we have at least one candidate for the original caster of the spells on the Sun and Moon. Perhaps the Gods built a low gravity world with magically enhanced gravity and a little sun and moon because they planned on always sticking around and doing things manually, but then they got bored and so they put the mythic equivalent of an automatic switch on them. The fact that Anubis had loyal unicorn guards, and after he was disposed unicorns are the next known beings to move the sun and moon, seems like a pretty strong coincidence.

One last thing: Perhaps Celestia and Luna's special talent isn't raising the sun and moon, it looks like any alicorn can do that. Instead it is drawing magic from the sun and moon which only they can do, and it's what makes them immortal. It would certainly explain how they are immortal but according to Hasbro, Twilight is not.

3868867 ... except that I don't think Nightmare Moon would mind catastrophic consequences?

(Though, okay, in the Cutie Remark timeline, she'd apparently managed to avoid them - at least for the neighborhood of her castle; who knows what was happening in the rest of Equestria?)

3868867

The heat of the sun is greater than the flash point of gossamer and morning dew.

Um... no. I don't think so. I had to dig around for this, and most of the relevant articles are behind paywalls, but spider silk is essentially a peculiar type of thermoplastic. If the heat of the sun was greater than its flash point, Rarity would basically get her coat burned off before it lit up, so the effect can't be thermal in that sense. But since Twilight says "morning dew," one can expect the water just evaporated despite magical insistence that it stay where it is, which would get accelerated by exposure to direct sunlight and clearer skies at higher altitudes.

Her shadow covers the entirety of Cloudsdale Colosseum.

That, I did miss. I'm not sure how much information can be extracted from that exactly, because camera shenanigans. Many distances and angular sizes in the show are very prominently not to scale.

3869087

Instead it is drawing magic from the sun and moon which only they can do, and it's what makes them immortal.

That would certainly explain a lot of stretchy things. It doesn't even need to make them immortal directly - just giving them access to easily recycling source of magic would permit them to use age spells at regular intervals.

Of course the moon has phases! There was that whole goth phase, and then her "lesbian phase" (which Rainbow Dash vehemently declines having participated in, despite photographic evidence), and even her gaming phase! Err, craze, that last one.

3980461

And there definitely was a Blue Period. :)

use magic to elongate a rope sufficiently

No E=mc² calculation? Or is there no good establishing shot for scale to find its length?

inhospitable, and possibly even uninhabitable, because there are places there where the sun, at least occasionally, don’t shine.

"Cutie Re-Mark part 2" hints that moonshine is adequate for life, given that Nightmare's been ruling for years, and things aren't dead. Of course, this is only a weak hint, as she could be relenting in some manner that changes this.

a pantograph suspension

Isn't that a bit at issue with the drunken wobbling Twilight does with them?

The non-monopoly makes the notion that various nations around the globe have their own sun/moon stewards, like, say, Anubis or perhaps one Ōkami Amaterasu¹. (Hmm. Is there a "B" solar deity?)

Of what you've got here, S1E1's “eldest used her unicorn powers” arguably makes Hearth's Warming Eve's “being an alicorn princess is not a requirement to move celestial objects” redundant.

¹Yes, aware that that's not her primary source. While a polytheistic control of the sun is viable, and a world in which ponies are only one nation is more interesting to me, Celestia = Amaterasu is necessary for one silly plotbunny I'm writing out. A wolf-sun-god would fit more on a world with Celestia, though…

Another hypothesis is, of course, unreliable narration and Censorlestia, also fitting more with an "individual nations have their own sun-stewards" leading to "each nation asserts its own sun-holder as the only one".

4305997

No E=mc² calculation? Or is there no good establishing shot for scale to find its length?

Camera shenanigans. Different shots clearly use different focal lengths and make it difficult to estimate relative angular sizes of anything.

“Cutie Re-Mark part 2” hints that moonshine is adequate for life, given that Nightmare’s been ruling for years, and things aren’t dead. Of course, this is only a weak hint, as she could be relenting in some manner that changes this.

Here’s one: Since the easiest way for Nightmare Moon to arrange an eternal night is already an eternal eclipse, it’s perfectly possible to produce eternal night in a specific region while retaining day/night cycle everywhere else. The sun moves in a circular path, while the moon intercepts it in one point, releases it in another point, and spends the real “night” moving back to intercept it again. A relatively narrow band remains in eternal night. Everywhere else you see sun and moon move together in the sky during the day and moon move alone during the night, and the opposite side of the Earth never sees the moon at all.

Depending on the specific relative sizes of all three bodies, it may be possible to arrange eternal night across the entire Equestria but nowhere else.

a pantograph suspension

Isn’t that a bit at issue with the drunken wobbling Twilight does with them?

Not really, as long as some inertia is involved.

Of what you’ve got here, S1E1’s “eldest used her unicorn powers” arguably makes Hearth’s Warming Eve’s “being an alicorn princess is not a requirement to move celestial objects” redundant.

The narration in the beginning of Friendship is Magic is already suspect, if only because at the end of it, everyone, including Twilight, is surprised that Princess Luna exists and is Celestia’s sister. If this text is what Twilight has actually been reading, verbatim, she’s an idiot. I choose to believe she isn’t, but that leaves us in the dark about what her version of the book actually said. :)

4306011

The narration in the beginning of Friendship is Magic is already suspect, if only because at the end of it, everyone, including Twilight, is surprised that Princess Luna exists and is Celestia’s sister. If this text is what Twilight has actually been reading, verbatim, she’s an idiot. I choose to believe she isn’t, but that leaves us in the dark about what her version of the book actually said. :)

I'm inclined to believe that she did read the book verbatim since the opening transitions from Celestia's narration to Twilight's as such. Forgetting an important bit of information doesn't make one an idiot, Twilight isn't perfect. I think that she prioritized the fact that a figure of evil was returning to usher in a literal dark age was more important and the fact that Celestia apparently dismissed her concerns didn't help.

A still frame from the movie trailer that seems relevant:

charactersheets.minotaur.cc/files/mlp/trailer_sunmoon.png

I leave interpretation of it up to you.

... especially as it seems to be implying that the sun rises in the north. :rainbowhuh:

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