Footage captures what the moon would look like if it was as close to Earth as the International Space Station

Sanjana Varghese
Wednesday 27 May 2020 16:57
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Picture:(Yeti Dynamics/ YouTube)

With everything going on at the moment, you don’t need another fresh nightmare.

But if you want to make yourself vaguely uncomfortable, this video on Twitter might do the trick. The International Space Station is 420 kilometres away, a beacon of scientific discovery led by incredible people. Another incredible person, here on Earth, decided to ask : what if the moon was that close to us?

It may not sound so bad – after all, we see the moon every night, and whole religions and cultures are in deference to it. The moon currently orbits the earth at 380,000 kilometres.

The Twitter clip – which went viral – was taken from this Youtube video posted in 2013, posted by “Yeti Dynamics”. In it, you can see the moon do a ‘moonrise’ and how it turns over the world.

At the distance of the ISS, the moon would actually orbit the earth in around 90 minutes, which would make every moon cycle feel very different. Also, if the moon was that close, we would likely be living in a very terrifying world. Why?

For one, the moon would be more than half of the sky, which is much bigger than the Sun, obviously.

But also, we would be a shell of a planet. It’s complicated but it comes down to gravity, and to tides. Earth’s gravitational pull is 300,000 times harder than the Moon’s.

If the moon was closer, then the centre of the Moon would also be closer, and so the gravitational pull of the moon would be roughly 1/10th of the pull of the Earth. Every time the moon goes over you, you’d weigh a little less (because the pull of gravity from Earth would decrease).

The far side of the Earth feels less gravity from the Moon than the side that’s facing it – that’s what we call a tidal force (the Moon’s tides on Earth pull water up and down by roughly a meter or two between high and low tide every day as the Earth rotates).

But if the moon comes so much closer, then one side of the Earth is suddenly a lot closer. The tides felt by the Earth would be amplified enormously – nearly 100,000 times what we experience now, so there would be global floods every 90 minutes.

That video may demonstrate a vision of you standing in a park as the moon kind of circles overhead, but in reality, we’d all be dead. As the Earth is 80 times bigger than the moon, the moon would be close enough to be affected by tides from the Earth, which could rip the Moon to pieces.

Again, this is all hypothetical – and the video itself is just an interesting thing to look at. Flash floods every 90 minutes and a moon breaking up into pieces are incredibly unlikely to happen at any point in our history (as far as we know).

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