LONDON — Not everyone is a stargazer, but a recent survey of 3,000 British adults reveals that more than half didn’t know that our galaxy is referred to as the Milky Way. Perhaps even more shameful: about one in six respondents (17%) thinks our entire galaxy is called “Earth.”
The survey, sponsored by Google Pixel 4, shows astronomy is clearly not a strong suit for many adults these days. One in five respondents believe the sun is a planet, and 68% of Brits have no idea that the first British citizen in space was a woman (Helen Sharman earned the honor in 1991). However, despite all that intergalactic ignorance, the survey also notes that online searches for astrophotography are growing 29% year-over-year.
“We want to inspire people to look up at the night sky more often, because when you do, it’s truly breathtaking,” says Google Pixel 4 product manager Nick Clark in a statement. Clark and his colleagues commissioned the study to emphasize the Pixel’s new “Night Sight” mode, which enables users to take pictures of the night sky, among other low-light subjects.
For what it’s worth, Wales was singled out as the U.K. area where locals are least likely to look up at the night sky for some star-watching. Still, half of the respondents admit that they feel “amazed” when they do turn their heads up towards the night sky.
The survey also revealed that one in ten respondents actually believes our solar system contains 12 planets, instead of eight. Earth is, of course, the third planet from the sun, after Mercury and Venus. Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune round out the remaining planets. Pluto was deemed too small to be a true planet and was officially excluded from our solar system’s planets in 2006.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.