Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(Latest comic: update edit link)
(Latest comic)
Line 11: Line 11:
<div style="border:1px solid grey; background:#eee; padding:1em;">
<div style="border:1px solid grey; background:#eee; padding:1em;">
<span style="float:right;">[{{fullurl:1092: Michael Phelps|action=edit}} '''edit this explanation!''']</span>
<span style="float:right;">[[{{LATESTCOMIC}}|'''Go to this comic''']]</span>
<br clear="right">
<br clear="right">

Revision as of 15:42, 8 August 2012

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki! We already have 11 comic explanations!

(But there are still 1813 to go. Come and add yours!)

Latest comic

Go to this comic

ISS Solar Transit 2
Most people don't realize it, but they actually launch a new space station every few weeks because this keeps happening.
Title text: Most people don't realize it, but they actually launch a new space station every few weeks because this keeps happening.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

This comic is a continuation to 1828: ISS Solar Transit, where Cueball is trying to capture the transit of International Space Station across the Sun. However, instead of transiting across the face of the sun, the ISS crashes into the Sun.

In reality, of course, this can never happen, because the ISS orbits Earth at an altitude of between 330 and 435 km, while the Earth orbits the Sun at an altitude of about 149.60 million kilometers or 1 astronomical unit. This means the minimum distance between the ISS and the Sun is only slightly less than 1 AU. Also, due to parallax, only people in a very localized region on earth are able to see the ISS "hit" the sun. For all others the ISS would travel past the sun.

The title text plays on this saying that a new space station is being launched every week as the old one gets destroyed by crashing into the Sun. This is clearly implausible, as the costs (of lives and money) would be astronomical[citation needed].


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Every panel is split into two half height panels above each other.]
[The top panel shows an image of an orange sun on a black background with a dot marked ISS in a cross-hair and a trail.]
[In the bottom panel Cueball is kneeling in front of a small platform while operating a camera with a very long objective while holding a smartphone. The camera is angled sharply upward toward the sky as it is attached to a tripod standing on the platform.]
Cueball: Perfect! Transit in three... two...
[The dot marked as ISS moves closer to the sun]
[The dot plunges into the sun]


The ISS travels across the face of the sun in 0.47 seconds (calculation). If we assume that Cueball is counting seconds, then the depicted speed of the ISS between panels 1 and 2 is too slow.

New here?

Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the explain xkcd wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them!


Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations, feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to—and helping everyone better understand—xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users posting such are at risk of being blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.

Explain xkcd logo courtesy of User:Alek2407.

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?