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"Hacker's Bright Idea"
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today Original air date
April 29, 2022
person Directed by
J. Meeka Stuart
person Written by
Monique D. Hall
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Light pollution
Bortle scale
Cardinal directions
Counting down time
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“What's so special about a comet? Other than it's like a giant frozen snowball that zips around in space. Actually, that does sound pretty cool.”

"Hacker's Bright Idea" is the fifth episode of Season 13 of Cyberchase. It originally aired on April 29, 2022[1].



  • Kacy's Comet (debut)
  • Stellandia (debut)
    • Arches
    • Grassy Hills
    • Ice cream shop
    • Mount Stellandia
    • Puffin Bay
    • Stellandia (town)
      • Stellandia Self Storage building
      • Other old warehouses
    • Woodlands


Atop Mount Stellandia, the CyberSquad awaits the return of Kacy's Comet – an event that only takes place every fifty years! Even Hacker and his bots can’t wait to see it. There's just one problem—a light is glaring into the sky and blocking out all the stars. The Squad investigates and along the way help several animals also struggling with the blinding light. Will they find the source in time?[2]

The episode opens on the CyberSquad climbing to the peak of Mount Stellandia to watch Kacy's Comet. Matt notes that it will fly through an arrow-shaped constellation, named the Dodecagon after its twelve sides, and that the comet won't return for another fifty cyberyears.

Jackie asks how Matt got interested in stars and comets. Matt recalls one of many times he went stargazing with his Poppop. He showed Matt Orion's Belt and the Little and Big Dipper. Poppop recounts being taught how to navigate by the stars when he was in the Navy, saying "With a night sky full of stars, you're never lost or alone."

Hacker is trying to find the best place to watch the comet from the roof of a warehouse nearby a Stellandia Self Storage building. Buzz and Delete struggle to move his chair several times due to Hacker's indecision, until he finds the perfect spot.

Meanwhile, Inez and Jackie marvel at how many stars are visible. Matt explains that the night sky is dark and introduces the Bortle Scale, a way to measure its darkness. He compares it to a chart on his Skwak Pad, on which the sky appears to match a 3 on the Bortle Scale.

Just afterward, a giant spotlight turns on, washing out the view of the stars. Matt identifies the problem as light pollution. The timer is ticking for the CyberSquad to shut off the light and regroup on top of the mountain to catch the comet.

Matt finds a fork in the mountain path and is about to choose one when Inez stops him. Jackie finds the way south to town by using a map and compass on her Skwak Pad. Digit also learns that the Skwak Pads are set to a red-light mode so the light doesn't bother nocturnal animals.

The CyberSquad is interrupted again by what they think is a boulder: a ball of food pushed by Bernice Beetle. Bernice took a wrong turn on the way to the woodland colony and became lost, because the Dodecagon was invisible due to the light pollution. Inez and Digit help Bernice while Jackie and Matt go to the town to shut off the light.

Hacker is making Buzz and Delete pedal-power the "ultra-giga-mega-kilowatt bulb" in his giant search light. He believes the light will give him the best view of the comet. Delete makes a shadow puppet of a bunny, which Buzz says looks like George.

A frog named Blunder overhears that Bernice is looking for an orange rock along the path home. Blunder offers to help them find it due to having good color vision at night.

Jackie and Matt find what they think is the main source of the light pollution: the lights at an ice cream shop (est. 1963). The stargazing residents of Stellandia have gathered and are worried about not being able to see the comet. One resident named Martha is complaining about the light pollution to the Shop Owner. The kids help convince him to turn off the lights until after the comet passes, and to consider switching to dimmer lightbulbs to avoid shining light into the windows in town. Martha assures Jackie and Matt that the owner is "really a very nice man." At that point, they notice Hacker's light.

Digit, Inez, Bernice, and Blunder find the orange rock. Blunder leaves, hoping to cross paths with Bernice again. The group then notices two puffins atop the rock. Digit hypothesizes that the light pollution made them fly inland instead of to sea. Using the map, Inez directs the puffins to fly through a natural arch and keep going straight to reach the sea.

Jackie and Matt find Hacker on the rooftop. Matt overhears that Hacker is trying to see the comet. As Jackie plans to sabotage him, Matt puts another plan into motion: to reason with Hacker nonconfrontationally. He shows Hacker that none of the stars are visible with the search light on, and that Kacy's Comet wouldn't be either. Hacker relents and commands Buzz and Delete to stop pedaling.

Bernice returns to the colony and the CyberSquad meets up atop the mountain with about four minutes to spare. They get comfortable, and Digit notices that the sky is even darker, now matching a 2 on the Bortle Scale. Everyone gets a clear view of Kacy's Comet, except for Buzz and Delete who have fallen asleep. The CyberSquad thanks Matt for helping them see it, and Matt thanks his Poppop. A star glows in the sky, implying that Matt wanted to watch the comet in Poppop's memory.

Educational topic

When too much artificial light pollutes the night, it can be unhealthy for many kinds of living things.[2]


Main article: Hacker's Bright Idea/transcript




  1. Cyberchase, The WNET Group's Emmy-Winning Series, Celebrates 20 Years of Math-Powered Fun and Learning on PBS KIDS. The WNET Group. PR Newswire. Cision Inc.. January 12, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cyberchase Season 13 Episode Descriptions - Episode Summary. PBS Pressroom - CYBERCHASE.