A video showing the moon falling to Earth is not a hoax, with unedited footage taken through the lens of a simple camera.
"These people are not in danger," said NASA in its introduction of the video. The disclaimer is appropriate, given how amazing and scary it looks at the same time.
Video Shows Moon Setting Behind Volcano
A video that was recently uploaded in NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day section looks like a scene from a science fiction movie. However, it is not a hoax, with no editing done by the photographer who recorded the footage, Daniel Lopez.
The video shows a massive moon apparently falling to Earth, while dozens of people are standing on a ridge. The moon continues to sink behind the ridge, going all the way down until it is hidden.
The scene was shot by Lopez in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, from a perch near the Mount Teide volcano in Tenerife. There was no editing done on the video, including its speed.
Moon Falls To Earth Video, Explained
The video is a prime example of an Earth illusion, with several factors combining to create an otherworldly scene.
First, the moon looks so large because Lopez used a telephoto lens in taking the footage. Telephoto lenses compress the distance between objects in the foreground, in this case the people on the ridge, and the objects in the backgrounds, in this case the moon. The volcano is about 10 miles away from Lopez, while the moon is about 240,000 miles behind it. The telephoto lens, however, makes it look like the moon is moving right behind the volcano.
Meanwhile, the speed of the "falling" moon is due to the rotation of the Earth, not a faster video playback or a time-lapse trick. The Earth spins at about 1,000 miles per hour, but people do not perceive the spinning. The telephoto lens, however, showcases the speed of the spinning Earth, creating the illusion that the moon is crashing into it.
Appreciating The Moon
Understanding the moon has long been one of humanity's goals. Recent scientific discoveries involving the moon include the identification of minerals in lunar meteorites that prove that there was once water on the moon and calculations that claim the moon is making Earth days longer.
However, sometimes, the people of Earth just need to take a step back and appreciate the moon, and the video taken by Lopez serves as a good reminder to do just that.