One night in February 2017, Wylie Overstreet turned her telescope on the street of a residential neighborhood in Los Angeles to observe the moon. In a couple of hours, more than 20 people approached him to take a look. A young couple was so amazed by what they saw through the telescope: "It was one of the most incredible experiences we have had in our memory," they said, who told Overstreet that he had just spent the night.
"I was like, well, I had no intention," Overstreet tells The Verge. "This is crazy, if people react like that, we should do this more often."
"A sense of wonder that there is something much bigger than us"
So Overstreet, who is a filmmaker, decided to take out his telescope again and again, and made a short film about it with his partner Alex Gorosh. The video, entitled A New View of the Moon, has been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube, and has been written by various media outlets. Capture the astonished reactions of passers-by looking at the Moon and its craters. For some, it's the first time, and they can not believe what they see. Its "Oh my God", "No way" and "What?!" They are a poignant reminder of how often we forget to look up.
"It takes us out of a certain daily rhythm and a daily routine and fills us with the feeling that there is something much bigger than us that we forget," says Overstreet.
Overstreet received its first telescope a few years ago, but it fell so hard for the hobby that it soon decided to upgrade it to a more powerful one: a 12-inch Skywatcher folding dobsonian reflector, which is shown in the video. In general, he and Gorosh spent 10 nights, in the span of a year, filming strangers as they climbed the telescope and looked at the Moon. Your three-minute video will probably make you cry. (At least, that's how I reacted). The Verge talked with Overstreet about his favorite reactions, the purpose of the video and what he learned from it.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Why has the video been shared so much, you think?
Alex and I made a very specific point of trying to show as much humanity as possible. I love Los Angeles for its diversity, so we really did not have to work hard. We wanted to show that everyone, no matter who they are, where they come from, how they are, how rich or poor they are, the universe imparts the same reaction. I think there's something profoundly human that moves when you see the universe up close in a way you've never had.
"Change your perspective on things here on Earth."
What is the purpose of the video?
To show people that there is something bigger than the things that concern us here on Earth. When you see something like the Moon up close, you can have an idea of that greatness. It is important to keep this in mind because it changes your perspective of things here on Earth: our problems, our differences, our struggles. Everything is in a different light and I think that is the point. There is something bigger than all that, and I think it is in the best interest of mankind to remember that.
What was your favorite reaction?
That is hard. Many of these reactions did not reach the cut because they did not necessarily play well in the camera, but in person they were wonderful. They are people who literally could not believe what they saw. They thought we were trying to cheat them. In fact, they turned around and looked at the telescope to see if we had any fake Luna inside that was a practical joke. That happened more than once. I would say, at least, half a dozen times, different people, different lifestyles, race and ages. That was the most fun.
What have you learned from this experience?
I think the best conclusion was that there is that central human sense of wonder and curiosity. It's there. People walked from the other side of the street, or parked their car, and followed that curiosity and then expressed that wonder when they finally saw the Moon. It was incredibly moving to see this idea of "Do everyone react to the universe in the same way and, if so, what does that say about humanity, who are we?" What we learned was the idea that we are all equal was validated