This comic is in reference to the transit of the planet Mercury across the Sun on November 11, 2019 (the date of the publication of this comic), which appeared from Earth as a small black dot moving against the background of the Sun. Randall has made comics about solar transits before, albeit about the transit of the International Space Station, in 1828: ISS Solar Transit and 1830: ISS Solar Transit 2. Viewing a solar transit requires a special lens filter to prevent the intense light from the Sun from burning out a telescope's imaging sensor.
The hashtag #nofilter is typically used on photo sharing sites, especially Instagram, to humblebrag about having encountered situations so photogenic that no further image enhancement ("filter") is required to prepare them for general advertisement. In this comic, the hashtag is instead used to cap off an image about the predicament of the poster, where the lack of a proper astronomic filter has led to damage of personal property. The image shown on the comic is quite bright and blown out, and though the poster did manage to get a picture of Mercury, the sun's bright light permanently damaged their telescope.
The title text refers to a still different meaning of the word "filter"; it imagines a swimming pool growing green scum in the absence of a water filter, as opposed to a photographic or astronomic filter.
Although not directly referred to in this comic, a third common variation of "No filter" is possibly alluded to here and can refer to someone who makes, or posts, tactlessly candid comments. While often this means comments that reflect the individual's actual views which are potentially offensive or socially unacceptable, it could also refer to someone who posts every mundane detail of their lives, such as what is growing in their swimming pool (as is shown in the title text). Multiple layers of meaning makes this pretty clever word play.
- [Panel showing the sun partially obscured by clouds with faded gray blue sky around the sun, mainly upper right, as there are clouds in the lower left part. The image is very bright and blown out at the bottom left, obscuring most of the surface detail of the sun. A small black dot is visible in the upper-right part of the sun's image.]
- [Caption below panel, with a yellow unhappy smiley before the hash tag:]
- This photo of the transit of Mercury fried my telescope's imaging sensor 🙁 #NoFilter
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In the title text, the filter probably refers to a pool filter used for cleaning the pool while the green stuff is algae that is growing in the water. As a personal note, owning a pool and paying the water bills for it is not something I can relate to. 184.108.40.206 22:33, 11 November 2019 (UTC)
1828: ISS Solar Transit, Anyone? 220.127.116.11 23:08, 11 November 2019 (UTC)
- Just added a little blurb about that; thanks for noticing.--Account (talk) 01:33, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
The transcript is wrong about there being no details visible in the image. A small black dot is visible on the upper-right side which is presumably Mercury. 18.104.22.168 09:04, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
The transcript is supposed to be text-only to allow screen readers for the visually-impaired people. How should we include the embedded smiley in the caption using just text? Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 14:20, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
- I didn't even see it, in the transcript, and it was just a square 'unknown char' upon editing. I decided to try the "non-literal descriptions are in square-parens" method, but that might not be the right method, and I have no idea if it's the right Unicode name... but it seems to do what's necessary, unless anyone wishes to revert/redo as per other examples of similar inclusions on this site. 22.214.171.124 14:34, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
- We do use emojis in the transcript here on this page. See other comics with emoji --Kynde (talk) 14:59, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
- As far as I'm aware, most screen readers / TTS engines simply read the Unicode name for the character (eg. 😎 translates to Smiling Face With Sunglasses). See this blog post for more on the issue. --126.96.36.199 13:30, 13 November 2019 (UTC)
- Have reinserted the smiley, see also this transcript --Kynde (talk) 22:06, 13 November 2019 (UTC)
Is there milage (or perhaps Astronomical Unitage?) in mentioning that an Instagram-esque 'filter' adds, or otherwise overwrites, a set of pixels whilst an optical filter subtracts a proportion of the photons? 188.8.131.52 14:24, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
I’ve no clue where this belongs (trivia?), but it seems worth noting. Tuesday, November 12, the New York Times began a “new column” titled Good Question. First piece is Randall answering If I Touched the Moon, What Would It Feel Like?” Idk if this is a new Randall column, or will have different contributors. Miamiclay (talk) 20:20, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
- You know what that website needs? A giant popup that covers most of the screen and doesn't let you read the article unless you sign up. Oh, nevermind, it just takes a while to load. --184.108.40.206 15:42, 13 November 2019 (UTC)
- Thanks for the link to the NYTimes article. I was, however, greatly saddened to find the pictures had no hover-text. what-if.xkcd.com has spoiled me. Cellocgw (talk) 13:28, 13 November 2019 (UTC)
- Cool article. But no I do not think it has anything to do with this comic which is about the Sun and Mercury, letting us now about he passage too late, and it is mostly about Hash tag and pictures... But I'm happy you posted the link. --Kynde (talk) 22:14, 13 November 2019 (UTC)
#nofilter Temp9867856745 (talk) 02:56, 13 November 2019 (UTC)
On social media in general, the #nofilter tag might be used by someone after venting and saying stuff that most people would keep to themselves; at the end of such a post they might add #nofilter to indicate they purposely did not apply common sense self-censoring in the composition of that post. It's not in the comic, so it's probably not worth mentioning as a third use of such a tag. Oh, and in case this comment has no validity at all and is mostly just stuff coming from my mind to my fingers without much thought... #nofilter -boB (talk) 20:24, 13 November 2019 (UTC)
- Upvote.220.127.116.11 15:21, 14 November 2019 (UTC)