Wonders of the Moon (2018) Movie Script

# Fly me to the moon
# Let me play
# Among the stars... #
Our fascination with the moon
has never been greater.
Across Britain, people turn out
in droves to capture its magic.
Millions of us share
our pictures of it,
and today,
stunning, detailed imagery
is revealing the moon
as never before.
Now we are going to unlock
the secrets
of the moon's monthly life cycle.
# Fill my heart with song... #
From waxing moons to waning moons,
full moons to supermoons...
# You are all I long for... #
..we'll see how the power of the
moon shapes life on Earth...
..explore its mysterious
dark side...
..and discover how the moon's
journey around our planet
can sometimes deliver one of
Nature's most awe-inspiring sights -
a total solar eclipse.
And at the end of a period
of intense lunar activity,
we will find out just
why supermoons are special.
# I love... #
You'll never gaze at the moon
in the same way again.
# ..You! #
The full moon appears
in our night sky every 29.5 days.
That's the time it takes
to travel around our planet.
But, sometimes, when you look up,
you see something
quite extraordinary -
a full moon that looks bigger
and shines brighter.
It's a supermoon.
And in just 12 weeks,
a trio of dazzling supermoons
has lit up our night sky...
..turning us all into moon-gazers.
To understand why
we have supermoons,
or any of the wonders of the moon,
we are going to follow the moon on
its epic journey around our planet.
We begin somewhere
rather unexpected -
in Coventry Cathedral...
..where something
remarkable has been created.
An exact replica of the moon,
showing every crevice and crater,
just half a million times smaller.
This touring artwork
has captured the imagination
of the British public.
More than 100,000 people
have flocked to see it.
It's very beautiful.
You almost feel like you're there.
It doesn't just put smiles on faces,
it can also show why the moon
looks the way it does at night.
From Earth,
we can see the moon above us
because, just like our planet,
it's lit by the sun.
As it journeys around us,
our view of the side
that is lit by the sun changes.
So we gradually see less and less
of this waning moon from Earth.
Once the moon's between
us and the sun,
we can't see any of the side
that's lit
and it seems to disappear.
When the moon re-emerges,
the side that is lit becomes visible
again in the shape of a crescent.
This is a waxing moon
that appears to grow
as the moon continues around us.
And it finally ends its
monthly journey
as the familiar face
of the full moon.
MUSIC: It's Only A Paper Moon
by Ella Fitzgerald
# Say it's only a paper moon... #
The full moon appears in our night
sky as regular as clockwork
and offers some
an opportunity to play.
# ..if you believed in me
# Yes, it's only a canvas sky... #
But when a supermoon
is on the cards...
..moon-gazers will go to the
ends of the Earth to see it.
# ..if you believed in me. #
It's 3rd December, 2017,
and the first of our current
trio of supermoons
is due to make an appearance
in the night sky.
One of the best places in the world,
where a good view of it
is virtually guaranteed, is here -
the Roque de los Muchachos
in the Canary Islands.
At 2,500 metres,
the peak is usually above the clouds
which makes it a perfect spot
for astronomers...
..and it's where mountain biker
Jordi Bago is headed.
It will be a really long climb.
I will have to put
in a lot of effort
because it is really high,
the mountain.
It's going to be cold.
We're going to cross some
of the big, deep clouds on the way.
It's a tough ride to the top...
..but Jordi makes it just in time.
At 6.30 on the dot,
the curtain goes up.
MUSIC: Supermoon by KD Lang
# Supermoon
# Where all the diamond deals
are made... #
At first, coloured
and distorted by Earth's atmosphere,
the moon is barely recognisable.
# ..Move along
# And if my smile... #
When I see the moon rising,
over the clouds,
it's amazing, the feeling, because
I never saw a moon like this.
It was so intense, like fire.
# Would you like
to start a river? #
As the supermoon clears the clouds,
it's revealed in all its glory.
# Our life savings aren't enough
# Have to lobby hard
and make it... #
The spectacle is enough to bring
astronomers out
from their observatories.
There's something about the moon,
isn't there?
I mean, it inspired
the initial astronomy,
that initial curiosity
to study the universe.
I mean, well, without the moon,
we wouldn't really have telescopes.
If you see a supermoon,
definitely take that opportunity
to go outside and check it out.
It's really beautiful.
The reason the supermoon looks
bigger and brighter
is because it's closer
to Earth than usual.
At its furthest, the moon
is over 400,000 kilometres away.
But a supermoon can be some
50,000 kilometres nearer
and shine almost a third brighter.
Being up here in the mountain
makes me feel that I'm closer to the
moon and I see it really big.
I never had that feeling that the
moon could be so close to me.
It was amazing, because I never
see something like that in my life
and I think
I will never forget that.
The moon is sometimes closer to us
because its path around our planet
isn't circular.
It's oval...
..and that path changes slightly
from month to month.
But it's when the moon
is at its closest
and coincides with a full moon
that we have a supermoon.
Today we can predict
the arrival of the full moon
and even a supermoon
with pinpoint accuracy.
But for centuries,
people looked up at the moon
and wondered just what it was that
was lighting up their night skies.
There's definitely stories
about the moon in all cultures -
the Maoris, Indians, Chinese...
And I think the moon
is one of those unifying symbols
across the planet,
just because it's so easy to see.
Astronomers at
the Royal Observatory in London
have been looking up at the moon
for more than 300 years
with increasingly large telescopes.
But Dr Sheila Kanani is
just as fascinated
by the fables as the facts.
What we can see here is our familiar
crescent phasing into a full moon.
And when the moon becomes full,
you can see all sorts of
different features.
Here you can see
the man on the moon -
the eyes...
the nose...
and the mouth.
In Britain, many thought
the man on the moon had
the bloated face of a heavy drinker.
And that's one of the reasons
so many pubs are named after
the moon.
But early astronomers
believed that the moon was a world
just like our own.
Thinking the dark patches were
seas, they gave each its own name.
The left eye, as we're looking at
it, is the Sea of Serenity.
It's about 700km across.
It turns out that those
seas are actually
the remains of volcanic eruptions
on the surface of the moon.
But these same features can mean
different things
to different people.
Other cultures see
different features on the moon.
So, for example, Chinese cultures
see a rabbit, and the two ears
are on the right-hand side
of the moon as we look at it,
with the body of the rabbit curling
round the face of the full moon.
And that rabbit is said to be
grinding the elixir of life.
The elixir is said to be
a magical potion that makes
a goddess of the moon immortal.
We now know the moon is home
to neither man nor rabbit,
but is thought to be rock that
broke off from Earth
and other space debris from a
cosmic collision
more than four billion years ago.
It's been our
constant companion ever since.
The moon, particularly
the full moon for me,
makes me feel like I'm not alone,
because it's always there,
like a companion in the sky,
looking down on me.
Few things match the stunning
beauty of rolling countryside
lit by a dazzling full moon.
But for our ancestors,
it had a rather
more practical purpose.
During the harvest,
the brightly-lit nights around
the full moon gave farmers
extra time to gather in their crops.
And even today, in some cultures,
the arrival of this
harvest full moon
is as eagerly awaited as Christmas.
It's October, and in Hong Kong
the rush hour has come early.
Tonight sees the arrival
of the full harvest moon...
..and the beginning
of a national holiday.
In the old neighbourhood
of Tai Hang,
20,000 incense sticks are
bringing a fire dragon to life.
Almost 70m long,
it leads an annual parade
through the streets to mark
this Mid-Autumn Festival...
..but the real star of this festival
is the harvest moon itself.
Down at the harbour, people are
gathering, waiting to see
the full moon when and if it
appears from behind the clouds.
For astronomer Patrick Lao...
You want to see, yeah?
..the Mid-Autumn Festival is
a heaven-sent opportunity to
share his passion for the moon.
When I look at the moon, I feel
very happy, and I also want other
people to see the moon
through a telescope
and feel my happiness.
Others have gathered on the beaches.
WOMAN: I think we are very lucky
today. CHILDREN: Yeah.
I really think we might
just see the moon.
the festival is a time
when families get together
under the light of the moon.
ALL: Wow!
It's so bright!
In the Mid-Autumn Festival
we have the full moon,
and full means round
in Chinese language.
Round can make up a phrase called
tuan yuan, which means unite, or...
Did you see the moon?
It's beautiful.
GIRL: It's so round and bright.
So it's a time for people to
celebrate the love of the family.
The star of the show is still
to put in an appearance.
And as the minutes tick by,
the tension mounts.
But at last, patience is rewarded.
The moon's appearance
has made the festival complete.
The crowds will be back in
exactly 12 full moons from now
to try and see it again.
The regularity with which
the full moon appears makes it
a perfect way to measure
the passage of time.
In fact, the word month
originally comes from moon.
And many celebrations,
such as Easter and Passover,
are based on this lunar calendar.
But it's not just humans
that use the full moon
to synchronise their activities.
The same thing happens
in the natural world -
nowhere more so than amongst
one of the world's largest
living organisms,
Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
It's springtime in
the Southern Hemisphere.
Beneath the ocean surface,
nature's greatest mass breeding
event is about to take place.
Each of these corals is home to
thousands of tiny creatures...
..and they have evolved an ingenious
way to reproduce, using moonlight.
On a few special nights of the year,
around the full moon,
when the water temperature
is just right,
the corals release
their eggs and sperm...
..all at once.
They only live for a few hours,
so releasing them
into this blizzard gives the eggs
the best chance of being fertilised.
The exact details of what triggers
this mass release
remains something of a mystery.
But it seems that corals can detect
the intensity of light,
and use the dazzling light
around a full moon
to time their reproduction
to perfection.
# I see a bad moon a-rising
# I see trouble on the way... #
For centuries, the full moon
conjured images of danger
and savagery.
Myth has it that the werewolf
under the light of the full moon.
Not to mention moon madness -
the word lunacy comes from Luna,
the Greek word for the moon.
None of these myths are
to be believed,
but that's not to say that they
don't contain a little bit of truth.
Because in the
life cycle of the moon,
we might find clues as to how,
in the dim and distant past,
we evolved our
deep-seated fear of the dark.
As the moon continues its journey
around the Earth,
the face that is lit becomes
increasingly hidden from us...
..and we see less and less
of it in the night sky.
This waning moon reflects
less light back to Earth...
..and the nights gradually
become darker.
And it's now that danger lurks.
In the heart of the
Serengeti in east Africa,
the great drama of hunter and hunted
is played out on a grand scale
during the different phases
of the moon.
This nocturnal world
is being revealed
with the help of
lowlight photography.
And what that shows us is that
when the moon is on the wane
and nights are darker...
..it is far easier for
a predator to stalk its prey.
The same is true for us.
A study of 500 lion attacks
on humans in Tanzania
found that the risk of being
attacked under the waning moon
is trebled.
So it could be our innate
fear of darkness
and the myths that have
grown up around it
stem from the very real dangers
our ancestors faced
under the dark nights of
the waning moon.
Considering the moon is so far away
and is only a quarter of
the size of Earth,
it punches well above its weight.
The moon's gravity is powerful
enough to pull our oceans
towards it, which means it
controls our tides.
And where the tides ebb and flow
on the border between land and sea,
life flourishes.
When you think of the world's most
nutritious environments,
a few images spring to mind -
tropical rainforests,
coral reefs,
but probably not Norfolk's Wash.
But despite appearances,
tidal mudflats are every bit
as nutritious as these more
exotic locations...
..as long as you know where to look,
like conservationist Jim Scott.
Well, at first glance, you can't
really see anything.
But when you start to come out
and actually dig around in it,
you'll find all sorts of things.
Ragworms, lugworms,
all sorts of shellfish.
Baltic tellin, cockles.
Just one square metre of mud
produces the energy equivalent
of 20 chocolate bars.
As a result, these tidal mudflats
are a magnet for migrating
and overwintering birds.
Hundreds of thousands of them
arrive every year.
You must think of these mudflats,
really, almost a little bit like
motorway service stations.
So birds are...on their migrations,
they're dropping in,
feeding up, fuelling up for
their long-distance journeys
and then moving on
to the next estuary.
Without the moon's pull on our
oceans, these tidal mudflats
and the creatures that live
in them wouldn't exist.
The Earth rotates once a day,
and when Britain is facing the moon,
the moon's gravity pulls
the sea towards it, creating
the tide that rises here in Norfolk.
As that rising tide gradually
covers the mudflats,
the birds are pushed
further inshore.
The biggest flock of
all are the knots.
They're named after Cnut,
the medieval king who, legend had
it, tried to stop the tide.
But nothing can,
and soon the mudflats
are completely submerged.
The birds have no option
but to take to the air.
# Fly me to the moon
# Let me play among the stars
# And let me see
what spring is like on
# Jupiter and Mars
# In other words... #
It's only then that it becomes
apparent just how many birds
depend on the moon's power over
the oceans for their food.
There must be 20,000 birds
coming off the last bit of mud,
right past us and into the lagoons.
They're a fantastic sight.
The birds head inland.
They'll wait here until this
part of the Earth has turned
away from the moon,
then the tide will go out
and once again it will be dinner
time on the tidal mudflats...
..all courtesy of the moon.
As the moon continues its journey,
it appears to get thinner
and thinner in the sky.
Until, halfway through the month,
the moon has moved directly
between the Earth and the sun.
Now no light falls on
the side that faces us.
It is in complete shadow.
Known as a new moon, here on Earth
we can no longer see it.
But now it's aligned with the sun.
The combined influence of the sun
and the moon's gravity
pulls the oceans even further...
..generating the very highest tides.
And there's one place in the UK
where once a month the new moon
produces a monster.
In a stretch of water off
the coast of Wales,
something is stirring.
I reckon we can get a couple
of hours out there today, eh? Yeah.
Hopefully, if the wave holds up.
If we can get there
before the wave starts forming and
then we'll be able to see. Yeah.
Yes, Tommy, take us away.
Elite kayaker Sam Charlesworth
and his friends are
going to meet it.
Yeah, fully fell in love
with the place.
Like, this is probably
the most beautiful
and intimidating place
I've kayaked in the UK.
These are the infamous
Bitches and Whelps rocks.
According to a local legend,
Viking invaders likened the large
rocks to snarling dogs
protecting the smaller rocks,
their pups or whelps.
But they really come alive
once the new moon starts
to bring in the tide.
We'll always be scanning the tide
tables looking for the best tide.
There's definitely an element
of excitement that comes about
when you see a
7.2m or 7.3m tide.
On the highest tides, one quarter
of a million tonnes of water is
forced through
the rocks every second.
Then out of the chaos,
something special emerges -
a static wave.
As the moon pulls
the water over the rocks,
the ocean floor pushes it
upward into a wave that
remains in the same place for as
long as the tide continues to flow.
You've probably only got a two-hour
window of it really working well.
Yeah, you want to make the most
of that time that you've
got on the water.
MUSIC: The Bitch Is Back
by Elton John
Even for kayakers of this calibre,
there's no guarantee they'll
get to ride the wave.
Oh-h-h... Ah!
Yeah, it can be a real battle.
You're just trying to find the speed
in the wave, trying to feel the...
Once you can start to work less,
then you know that you're
on the right track.
And it's just about finding where
the easiest place to be is.
# Moon river... #
The incoming tide is now rushing
over the rocks at speeds of
up to 40kmh.
But as long as the kayakers can find
the wave's sweet spot,
surfing it is almost effortless.
# Two drifters
# Off to see the world... #
I think it's incredible that having
something so far away -
the moon - can create something
so unique, so special here
and yeah, you're surfing,
that's the dream!
Yet nothing can last for ever.
As this part of the Earth turns
away from the moon,
as suddenly and imperceptibly
as the wave emerged,
it disappears again.
It will be a month before
the new moon will return
and conjure up another monster wave
for Sam and his friends to ride.
Yeah, there's a lot of things that
make a good session out here.
And we scored today.
Just over two weeks into
its monthly journey,
the moon has travelled more than
halfway around the Earth.
From where we're standing,
the lit side of the moon
now starts to become visible again.
And the moon reappears,
magically it seems,
in the faint whisper of a crescent.
But, for some, it has
an extra-special meaning.
Within the Islamic world,
it's the first sighting of
the crescent moon that marks
the beginning of each month.
And the faithful go looking for it,
whether they are in Mecca,
Istanbul, Jakarta...
..or Croydon.
Every month, the congregations
from the local mosques
gather on the hills around Croydon,
to try and spot the new
crescent moon.
The crescent moon starts the month
in the Islamic calendar
and the tradition is that we go out
and we look for the moon
because the Prophet Muhammad said,
"The month starts
when you sight the moon."
Tonight, amateur astronomer
Imad Ahmed is leading the search...
According to my compass,
what do you think...?
Does that look... ..along with
local imam Suliman Gani.
We may be able to see
the crescent today.
But with the British weather,
that's easier said than done.
It's quite difficult to sight, not
just because of the cloudy skies
in the UK, but because the new
crescent moon is really thin.
OVER PHONE: Then you can easily see
above the glare...
For many years, British Muslims have
relied on word from abroad
that the crescent moon
has been sighted.
Now there's a growing network of
local moon-spotters in the UK.
OK, I've got a couple come in from
York Astronomical Society,
we will contact you
after the sunset.
But for Imad, seeing the new
crescent moon means much more
than simply marking
the start of the month.
Symbolically, in Islamic culture,
in poetry,
and symbolically to me, the moon
represents light amidst darkness.
It represents something that can
guide you when you can't see
and so when the waning moon
disappears into the night sky,
we have a few days of darkness,
but the new crescent emerges again,
and to me, that represents
light and it represents hope.
Once the sun has set
and the sky darkened,
all eyes turn to the horizon.
OK, see where my hand is?
ALL: Yeah.
Right, look... Not the first cloud,
the second, the third...
After me...
When Muslims do sight
the crescent moon,
they can recite a prayer.
It's a really special prayer
and you directly address the moon
and you say to the moon,
"Oh, moon, your God
and my God is Allah."
And I think it's a fascinating,
interesting way that we are
being directed to really connect
and commune with nature,
specifically the moon.
Millions of us gaze up at the moon
over the course of the month,
watching it wane and wax,
but that's only half the story.
And that's because we only
ever see half the moon.
There's another side, that we never
get to see from Earth.
It's known as "the dark side".
I'll see you on the far
side of the moon.
Every day of his working life,
space scientist Noah Petro
pays a visit to the dark side.
# I'll see you on the dark side
of the moon... #
I have always been
a bit of an outlier
and so, I mean, I love all areas
of the moon equally
but I love some
more equally than others.
From his base at Nasa,
the US space agency,
Noah is fed a stream of data from
a satellite orbiting the moon.
Put your nose right up against
the surface of the moon.
Craters upon craters upon craters
upon craters.
You can lose yourself.
From some 40km above the moon,
the lunar reconnaissance orbiter
captures the most detailed picture
of its surface ever taken.
So here is our beautiful
far side of the moon.
A hemisphere only
a lunar scientist could love.
We're going to do
a computer-generated
fly-by to the far side of the moon.
One of the surprising things
that everyone sees
when we look at the far side
of the moon, is that it's lit.
That's because people expect the
dark side of the moon to be dark
but, just like the near side
of the moon,
the far side of the moon
gets illuminated every day.
At any moment during the moon's
journey around our planet,
the light on the far side of
the moon is the exact opposite
of what we're seeing from Earth.
So when our side of the moon
is in shadow,
the far side of the moon
is fully lit.
The far side wasn't seen
at all until 1959,
when a Soviet probe completed
the first orbit of the moon.
The first Earthlings to reach
the far side were also Soviet
when, in 1968, two tortoises
were launched into orbit.
But to this day
it still remains largely unexplored,
which is why Noah
finds it so intriguing.
If I were to be given a ticket
to go anywhere on the moon,
the one place I would go to
first would be
on the far side of the moon,
Shackleton crater.
Sunlight only comes in
at really steep angles.
That means it's very cold,
about -173 degrees Celsius.
Some of those shadowed areas
have never seen sunlight
since they formed. Millions,
billions of years, perhaps,
have been in permanent shadow.
The Shackleton crater and the
surrounding south pole regions are,
you know, really beckoning us to go
explore and find out what's there.
Before Noah went
over to the dark side,
his first passion was the side
we see from Earth.
That's thanks to the Nasa
Apollo missions of the 1960s
and '70s that put the first
humans on the moon.
I'm going to need to find Apollo 12,
that's a hard landing site to find.
Using data from LRO, you know,
we can trace their steps, literally,
by seeing their footprints
preserved in the lunar surface.
The moon doesn't have an atmosphere,
so there's no rain or wind to wash
away the marks we left behind.
In these images you can see the
boot prints that both astronauts,
Alan Bean and Pete Conrad,
left behind during their two
EVAs on the surface.
And you can see their trace
around the crater.
So one of the beautiful things
about the Apollo 12 landing site
is that you can essentially,
in one image,
retrace their entire adventure
on the moon.
# Giant steps are what you take
# Walking on the moon
# I hope my neck don't break... #
For Noah, these close up photos
taken by astronauts have
an additional significance.
At the end of the mission, in order
to be able to launch from the
moon surface, the astronauts would
jettison any unnecessary weight.
Amongst the items
were their backpacks,
containing their
life support systems.
Each is signed by the engineers
that built them,
including Noah's father.
You know, sitting out there,
on the surface of the moon,
are 12 backpacks that
contain my dad's name on them.
Which is pretty cool!
You know, these pictures
have a deep meaning for me,
not just because of the science
that comes out of them
and what they represent,
but what they represent to me,
my family,
and why I'm doing this today.
Just 12 humans have left
their boot prints on the moon.
Alan Bean is one of them.
Nobody is good enough
to deserve a chance of all
the people on Earth to go do this.
No-one is that good,
relative to others, do you see?
I wasn't either, OK?
But I got lucky.
On 19th November, 1969, after
a journey of four days, Alan and
fellow astronaut Pete Conrad began
their final descent to the moon.
What Pete and I were thinking
about when we came down -
is this going to work?
That's what you were thinking about.
Then you get down,
you look out the window, you know,
you pat each other on the back,
you know, we're here!
# If you believe
# They put a man on the moon
# Man on the moon
# If you believe... #
It was a moment Alan had spent
years training for.
They had taken us
to places on Earth that they thought
were like the moon, like Iceland.
There's a lot of volcanic...
We knew this was all volcanic,
so we went there.
When you get to the moon,
it's not exactly like that,
but it's pretty much like it.
And that's part of the training.
But no amount of training could
prepare Alan for the physical
reality of this alien world.
'It's beautiful, it really is.'
We get there and we're at
one sixth gravity,
it was like suddenly I was
the strongest that I'd ever been.
One of the experiments I carried out
was 420lb on Earth.
I carried it around on the moon,
I couldn't even lift on Earth.
I mean, I knew why, but when you're
doing it, you're thinking,
"Wow! Man, am I strong!"
You know,
"This is the greatest day!"
Alan spent two days
and one night on the lunar surface,
collecting rocks
and carrying out experiments.
Then it was time for the perilous
business of returning
to the command module,
orbiting above.
You can't hear things in space.
When we lifted off,
we don't hear anything.
We had to burn our engine
six minutes and three seconds.
I can remember, you know,
looking at my watch and the timer.
OK, that's three minutes.
And I'd say something like,
"I wonder how our engine's doing."
It could be down there sputtering
or getting ready to poop,
or who knows!
It's got to keep going for another
couple of minutes.
And sure enough, it did,
and shut down.
I can remember thinking,
when that shut down, I thought,
"We will get back to Earth."
One of the thoughts
I had coming back,
we were on the moon 30 hours,
and we'd trained for years
and thought about it
for many more years.
And I thought, you know,
"Is this all there is?
"Is it over this quick?"
Those few brief hours have shaped
the rest of Alan's life.
After leaving Nasa,
he turned his painting hobby
into a full-time occupation.
Of the 215 paintings
he's made since,
each and every one
has featured the moon.
I was there, I know the stories,
I know what it looks like.
But if I don't do this,
these paintings won't...
and the stories that go with them.
Even for those few that have
stood on the moon,
it's a place that remains
enigmatic and wondrous.
But I'll tell you what's different
now, when we were going to the moon,
when I'd look at the moon at night,
it seemed pretty close.
It didn't seem hard to do.
It didn't seem far away.
When I look at the moon now,
it seems so far away.
And I say, you know,
"How did we ever get there?"
After 29.5 days
the moon has completed
its epic journey around our planet.
In that time, many of us
will have looked up
and enjoyed its simple beauty.
Yet although this cycle is constant,
not all lunar orbits are the same.
The moon's irregular path around
our planet means that sometimes
the Earth, sun and moon fall
into a very particular alignment.
And when the Earth is
exactly in the middle,
it casts a shadow over the moon.
This is a lunar eclipse.
The light reaching the moon passes
through the Earth's atmosphere,
which colours it a deep red.
So it's known as a blood moon.
Sometimes it's the other way round.
It's the moon that casts
its shadow on the Earth.
This happens when the moon
comes directly between
the Earth and the sun...
..and the moon blocks out the sun.
A total solar eclipse.
21st August, 2017.
America is waking up
to a special day.
For the first time
in almost a century,
a total eclipse will sweep the
nation from one coast to the other.
This rare event means different
things to different people.
Many Native Americans will follow
the traditional custom
of hiding away and quiet reflection.
Some native tribes consider
the eclipse a bad omen.
There are some native
Americans that think
it's a renewal of things
on Mother Earth
like the animals, the water,
the trees and us as human beings.
Because the sun is
so much larger than the moon,
the moon's shadow is
only around 110km across.
And millions of people are racing
to get in its path.
Joel Harris has been chasing the
moon's shadow for the past 40 years.
After 19 of these, you'd think
they're all the same,
but they're
actually quite different.
Joel's one of just six people
to have spent more than an hour
in totality - that brief moment
when the moon blots out the sun.
Today, in Wyoming, he's hoping to
add a further 2.5 minutes to his
tally, along with a coach-load of
eclipse chasers he's leading.
I've been planning
it for four years.
Right, for over just two minutes
of work.
Or two minutes of something.
# Moon shadow, moon shadow
# Moon shadow, moon shadow... #
Further east,
in the city of St Louis,
the students
of Yeatman-Liddell School
are also heading to
the eclipse path,
in the hands of school principal,
Dr Leslie Bonner.
Oh, my goodness, I think
they're extremely excited.
They're putting their glasses on,
taking them off,
they've got their T-shirts on.
They are asking questions,
looking at the sky, just trying to
figure out exactly what to expect
once we get to see
this total eclipse.
Yes, they are extremely excited.
I think the staff may be
just as excited as they are.
It's getting...
It's getting to...
Are you getting excited?
I am excited,
but I am really nervous, too.
Leslie grew up in a similar
neighbourhood to her students.
Seeing an eclipse as a child
inspired her to study science.
She's hoping today
will do the same for them.
So you see what's actually going
to be happening today?
99.9% of our scholars are in
the lower socioeconomic status.
Can you see it? This is what
you are actually going to see today.
And viewing this eclipse today
is what definitely
it's something that puts
their eyes on the prize
in regards to what's next
in the scientific area.
If proof were needed of the power
of the eclipse to shape lives,
you need look no further than Joel
Harris's band of eclipse chasers.
Oh, this one I've been... Actually,
if you really want to know,
I've been planning this
since I was 11 years old.
Here we are, 54 years later,
after my first eclipse,
and this one I'm going to see
because the last one in Maine
on July 20th, 1963
got clouded out at the last minute.
I think this will be just my fifth.
You think it's just an item
to check off your bucket list,
but, no, it's like forever
on your bucket list.
Every time you see one,
you want to see the next one.
We're really excited about it
and we're just a few seconds away.
I've lost Mike but I'm going to
look back at the sun
while I still have the opportunity.
10.00am, and on the West Coast,
the eclipse has already begun.
It is arriving at the United States.
It's over the Pacific Ocean
and about to reach Oregon.
This is the celestial...
Then, as Earth turns,
that shadow sweeps over its surface,
plunging one place after another
into a deep twilight.
Left in its wake are wave
after wave of awestruck viewers.
This is the celestial event that
we've all been waiting
and anticipating for years.
Hold-up, wait a minute.
As the students of Yeatman-Liddell
arrive into the eclipse path,
it's already underway.
Oh, my gosh. Did you see that?
Oh, my gosh!
It kind of look like a Pac man.
Yeah, you can see like a half sun
but you can see the moon and the
sun. Yeah, you can see the moon.
Yeah, like a crescent.
Yeah. Like a crescent.
Somebody tell me...
Oh, my gosh, it's so beautiful!
There you go.
In Wyoming, totality is nearing
for Joel Harris and his group.
But years of meticulous
planning might be
snatched from them
at the very last moment.
Get that balloon out of here!
The hot-air balloon is heading
right towards the sun.
Look at that.
If that crosses. Yeah. Oh!
PEOPLE SHOU Oh, this is like ridiculous!
Shoot 'em down! Everybody blow hard!
With the way now clear,
Joel can use all his experience
to lead his troop through
the final stages of build-up.
Get ready!
Shadow's coming, it's on those
clouds over there!
As the moon creeps across the sun,
its shadow races toward them.
Here she comes!
The last rays of light reach
through the moon's mountainous edge
to create a diamond ring effect.
Now all that can be
seen of the sun is the corona -
its glowing outer atmosphere,
reaching hundreds of thousands
of kilometres into space.
One minute to go.
It's going beautifully dark here,
it's becoming twilight.
You've got to put
the glasses back on.
I'm going to spend a second
looking around at the crowd.
Oh, my goodness.
The winds are really picking up.
You know, in this dark area,
the winds are just flowing in.
Next, it's St Louis,
and the first time in these
children's lives that they'll get
a taste of this rare wonder.
Do you see how dark it's getting?
Oh, my God, isn't it incredible?
Keep your glasses on.
As quickly as totality arrived,
it's gone.
But the experience will
never leave them.
That's once-in-a-lifetime,
right there.
That was nice. I took off my glasses
I actually seen the eclipse
it started before
I seen the totality of it.
But I can only see it
with my only human eyes...
You need to be helping them out.
MUSIC: Dancing In The Moonlight
by Toploader
# When that moon is big and bright
# It's a supernatural delight... #
Joel has just clocked up another two
minutes 30 seconds in totality.
It's emotional.
It's visceral.
It's really something.
I am wonderful. I'm on cloud nine.
Just for today,
today has been awesome.
Probably one of the best days
of my career as an educator.
This is super cool.
In all, more than 150 million
people in America experienced
the shadow of the moon
in countless different ways.
Sadly, there won't be a total
solar eclipse in Britain
for another 72 years.
But right now, there is
one wonder that we can enjoy -
the third of a dazzling
trio of supermoons...
..because it isn't just
a supermoon.
Unusually, it's the second full moon
in a month,
which is known as a blue moon.
And that isn't all...
..in the Far East, they'll also
be treated to a lunar eclipse.
So this last supermoon is, in fact,
a super-blood-blue-moon.
The first one for 150 years.
Our moon captivates us
today as much as it ever has.
Perhaps because moon-gazing
is such a simple pleasure,
one we can all enjoy.
All we need to do is look up,
just as our ancestors did
and our descendants surely will, and
marvel at the wonders of the moon.
# Come and take a trip
in my rocket ship
# We'll have a lovely afternoon
# Kiss the world goodbye
and away we'll fly
# Destination moon
# We'll travel fast as light
till we're out of sight
# The Earth will be like
a toy balloon
# Destination, destination moon! #