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A planetary scientist ranked Saturn emoji for accuracy, and WhatsApp is the winner

"Inez Fantl" (2020-03-06)"article-body" class="row" section="article-body"> Apple's ringed-planet emoji has a lot going for it, but it also has a pretty severe tilt problem.

Apple James O'Donoghue is a planetary scientist with JAXA, Japan's space agency. He used to work at NASA and has published papers on Saturn's atmosphere and rings. He knows a thing or two about our solar system's most gloriously ringed planet.

O'Donoghue took to Twitter on Wednesday to offer up a tough but fair assessment of the accuracy of Saturn emoji from Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and WhatsApp. 

I'm a planetary scientist with published papers specifically on Saturn's atmosphere/rings, so thought it'd be fun to rank the "Ringed Planet" emojis🪐

First I'm gonna assume they're trying to be SATURN ok, so I'll be ranking their accuracy based on that. Results end of thread!👇

— Dr James O'Donoghue (@physicsJ) February 26, 2020 O'Donoghue's entire thread is worth a browse. You will pick up some nifty Saturn facts along the way and gain a new appreciation for what it takes to pull off an authentic emoji design.

For reference, check out this Hubble Space Telescope portrait of Saturn from 2019.

Hubble captured this portrait of Saturn in 2019.

NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) While Apple did a "nice job capturing the golden yellow shades of Saturn's cloud tops," it failed a major test by exaggerating Saturn's tilt way past 26.7 degrees. O'Donoghue named Apple's effort the overall winner for atmosphere, but it didn't quite top the competition. 

Saturn itself - v nice job capturing the golden yellow shades of Saturn's cloud tops, only this one definitely shows the famous polar hexagon. Overall winner in atmosphere!
Rings - well done, includes Cassini division (gap), albeit a bit large
Tilt: 45°, should be 26.7°

— Dr James O'Donoghue (@physicsJ) February 26, 2020 The underdog winner of the scientist's informal contest was WhatsApp, thanks to the emoji designer's dead-on tilt and faithful rendition of the planet's rings.

Number 1 is Whatsapp! Apple was a close second, but I was so impressed by Whatsapp-Saturn's tilt & rings being so accurate that it was an easy choice: the rings are Saturn's crown jewels!

As I said this assumes they're trying to match Saturn, may not be true. Thx for reading!🪐

— Dr James O'Donoghue (@physicsJ) February 26, 2020 Some of the emoji strayed far from the path of truth, with O'Donoghue labeling Twitter's bright-orange-and-yellow attempt as "the most offensive of all."

It's all in good fun, but it highlights how cartoon emoji aren't immune from scrutiny. At least the Saturn emoji appearance isn't as controversial as when the egg went missing from Google's salad.