1291: Shoot for the Moon

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Shoot for the Moon
Shoot for the Moon. If you miss, you'll end up co-orbiting the Sun alongside Earth, living out your days alone in the void within sight of the lush, welcoming home you left behind.
Title text: Shoot for the Moon. If you miss, you'll end up co-orbiting the Sun alongside Earth, living out your days alone in the void within sight of the lush, welcoming home you left behind.


The comic and the title text both parody the motivational quote attributed to Leslie Brown, which originally says, "Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

In the original form, the phrase "Shoot for the moon" is figurative, meant to inspire people to pursue ambitious goals, reasoning that even if they fail to achieve them, they may still accomplish other great things while trying. The comic and title text, on the other hand, is literally referring to the moon, and using the word "shoot" not in the sense of "aspire" but to mean "fire a weapon at." The comic further explores the humorous motivations for "shooting the moon"; Megan wants to destroy and kill the moon in order to humble it, feeling taunted by its orbiting merrily over her head, and so she inspires her students to physically attempt to destroy the moon whenever possible, only to become sheepish when she realizes the moon is right behind her, as if it were a person who could become offended by what she is saying. This is, of course, a common comedy trope.

The title text invokes another literal interpretation of the phrase - if a space vehicle aims at the Moon and misses, it will end up in a new orbit, possibly (depending on its velocity) escaping from the Earth-Moon system and following a separate but nearby orbit around the Sun. A solar orbit is very hard, very fuel-intensive, and very lengthy to return from, despite physically meaning you will remain very close to Earth, even close enough to see it with some optical magnification. Thus, as a hypothetical space explorer's life support gradually ran out because his craft could not make it back to Earth in time, he would be taunted by Earth remaining close to him. Getting stranded on the Moon was the subject of the title text of 1510: Napoleon and of 1484: Apollo Speeches.


[Megan stands at a lectern.]
Megan: Students, shoot for the moon. If you miss,
[A surprisingly lunar-like object is starting to edge into the frame.]
Megan: Keep shooting and never stop.
[The moon is now almost entirely in-frame.]
Megan: Someday, one of us will destroy that stupid skycircle. And—
Megan: ...What? What are you all—
[The moon is now in frame, lurking ominously in the background.]
Megan: ...it's right behind me, isn't it?
Megan: Shit.
Megan: Everyone act casual.


  • The What if? Question #109 Into the Blue Made a reference to this comment - see the title text on the third picture.
  • Shoot for the moon could also mean an attempt to penalize other players in Hearts, where failing can often put you close to dying.

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Danish, not Megan, right?! 06:33, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

The woman in this comic looks more similar to Megan than Danish. 07:39, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Three meanings of shoot are used: 1. Have high plans 2. Fire a weapon 3. Aim for navigation. Sebastian -- 07:01, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure this is Megan, Danish have longer hair 12:18, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

The so far uncommented-about title text seems to be (almost What-If-ishly) literal in a completely different way. Except that I'm pretty sure you'll not stay within sight of the Earth, for most trajecectories. But you'd maybe find yourself in a complexly resonant orbit, maybe Cruithne-like. Just putting that out there. Resident orbital mechanics experts please feel free to evaluate accordingly. 17:05, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Title text of course only applies to prograde approach. Retrograde would put you on a free return trajectory if you miss. (This is why Apollo used a retrograde approach, in case something went wrong on the far side, they wouldn't be stranded in a solar orbit.) -- 20:05, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

No time for more investigations (I will do soon):

Megan does act like JFK in 1962
The first Moon probes did not reach the Moon but entered a solar orbit as the title text does mention
There are many statements by Randall: hH does not like that JFK (propaganda).
Help me for more

--Dgbrt (talk) 23:35, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Megan is clearly not quoting JFK.

Simple observation tells us that a an object sent on a moon flyby will enter solar orbit. The escape velocity of the earth is 11km/s but the escape velocity of the solar system is like four times that. Therefore, unless we accidentally accelarate the probe to over 40km/s, it will certainly remain in solar orbit.

There are only four comics listed in the JFK category and in two of them, the mention is incidental. I don't see any evidence that Randall "does not like that JFK", nor would I expect to. 01:48, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Randall may have been imagining an earth orbit, which would explain being able to see it. 'Co-orbiting the Sun' is just the pedantic idea that the earth and moon orbit a common centre of mass. 16:12, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

the comic was mentioned in What If #109. --valepert (talk) 19:53, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

With this comic being referenced in what if 109, and the possibility of it becoming a recurring joke, I wonder it what if 13 is also relevant here, an attempt to destroy the Moon with lasers. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

You could make a point that What If 81 (Catch!) also references this, what with a woman with identical hair pointing a gun upwards and the image having the hover text "Goodnight, Moon". Also, 13 wasn't about destroying the moon with lasers, just illuminating it. It just ended up turning up the power so much it did. Which, y'know, happens. -Pennpenn108.162.250.162 03:12, 3 March 2016 (UTC)