What It Would Look Like If The Moon Orbited Earth As Close As The Space Station

October 16, 2013


This is a video created by amateur astronomer and Youtuber Yetipc1 of what it would look like if the moon, which normally orbits earth at 384,400km (~238,855-miles), orbited earth at the same distance as the International Space Station, around 420km (260-miles). Apparently it would look huge. Of course that could never happen because the earth would suck the moon right into us and we'd go out like the dinosaurs. Or at least in my daydreams that's what happens. Plus I'm making out with a hottie when it all goes down.

Normally the Moon orbits much slower than the earth rotates so it rises in the east and sets in the west, however at 420km it orbits much faster, faster than the earth rotates underneath, therefore it will rise in the west and set in the east.

...The Moon would orbit very fast, somewhere between 130 mins and 90 mins. ...The time in the video is sped up. The moon would transverse the sky slower. Like 10 mins (rough guess)

Okay so apparently the moon COULD orbit the earth so close if it were going fast enough, but being so close would strip the atmosphere from earth, cause the ocean tides to destroy all land life, and all around make earth a shitty place to live. But that's all just speculation, I say we tractor beam that f***er and see what really happens.

Hit the jump for a video of a moon so close you feel like you could reach out and touch it.

Thanks to Ramblow, who wishes earth orbited the sun as close as the moon does earth.

  • TakeThePowerBack

    great video. imagine the high-tide mark.

  • that was awesome

  • 420 KM - pothead moon conspiracy

  • Girgear

    I've always had dreams like these. It was pretty realistic too.

  • Konstantin

    That's not even close to what it would look like, because this distance is well within Roche limit, meaning that the Moon would disintegrate into a planetary ring due to tidal forces. It would be an awesome looking ring, though.

  • Darkunit

    Roche limit doesn't apply here, as the Moon is held together by more than just its own gravity. Roche limit is more about clusters of gravity bound rock, liquids, or dust.

  • Konstantin

    First of all, any sufficiently large body behaves as a liquid. The material strengths are not comparable to gravitational forces. Hence the round shape of the body. But even for objects with significant tensile strength, such as monolith asteroids, the Roche limit can be defined. Large enough asteroid would be torn apart at an approach this near. With something as large as the Moon, there is just no question about it. It would be shredded and debris would form a ring.

  • Kenlin Bros

    Dirty space news!

  • JJtoob

    I just think you should be able to see the shadow of the moon coming at you and moving away, and would you not see some glow around the moon? Sure it's completely covering where it's recorded from, but it doesn't cover the whole light side of Earth, you should see a bright horizon as well.

  • Iknowyou

    There should be more water, a lot more water. If the moon were that close, it would probably be dragging the oceans across the continents.

  • JJtoob

    At the very least some major storms as the moon passes, especially at that speed.

  • ODwanKenObi

    That's no moon!! Oh yes...yes it is...

  • Jeremy Tilton

    Awesome, it's especially cool that we'd have a short "night" (full lunar eclipse) in between nights and the moon's phases would change throughout the day based on position in sky and time. That said, I'm with Amsel, not sure why the dude had any transparency on the "moon" layer in whatever he was using to make the video.

  • Trevor Troake

    im no astronomer, but i dont think its transparency. its our atmosphere, in the shots before the moon covers the sun, we see the clouds and and the blue of the sky. thats all our atmosphere. once the moon blocks the sun it appears to become "solid" because without the suns light reflecting off our atmosphere its much easier to see through it. hope this helps :)

  • Jeremy Tilton

    Right, as is the case as the moon appears now. I guess I expected the lit parts of the moon to be brighter.

  • AmselZephlyn

    The moon has a pretty low alpha at that distance!

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