Earth and Moon

Usually when you see wacky space pictures, the Moon is unrealistically close to the Earth. What’s up with that?

I wanted to get a better sense of exactly how the Earth and Moon would appear from an observer in space.

Here’s my recreation of how they would appear. I used texture maps of the surface of the Earth and Moon that I found on the Internet. The relative sizes of the two objects and the distance between them should be accurate.

In the picture, the observer is 350,000 miles away from the Earth and the Moon, which are 250,000 miles apart.

It’s kinda trippy to stare at this image and then think about what the astronauts in the Apollo space program did. They went all the way over there, no really. They went that far away from the nearest McDonald’s.

A few summers ago I was living with a friend whose wife was from Australia. I was trying to describe to her how close the Moon was, and then I realized, “Wow, the Moon is only about 20 times farther away than Australia!” which is pretty amazing if you think about it. That’s pretty close. It’s not like it’s a million times farther away.

However, the woman got really depressed because the way she heard it, Australia is one twentieth the distance to the Moon, which is quite far if you’re away from home.

This image has the most impact if you make it fill your whole screen and then turn off all the lights in the room. Stare at it for a while and try to imagine that you’re out in space looking back through some kind of bizarre porthole.

It’s also fun to imagine that you’re floating around weightlessly by the porthole, and that you’re holding a pastrami sandwich with some really good Dijon mustard.

It’s even more fun if you imagine that this doesn’t make you completely nauseous, and that you don’t throw up on the porthole and then have to clean it up later under the glaring eye of a futuristic flight attendant who hasn’t shaved her legs because that’s probably something that’s going to be particularly hard to do in zero gravity.

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