With the Release New colorful bowling alley photos from the James Webb Space Telescope, it’s official. Space is cool again.
But for some people, such outlandish images serve as proof that, as one Instagram post asserts, “SPACE IS WRONG.”
This July 20, 2022, Publish relied on old NASA images to suggest that the varying sizes of the moon and Earth relative to each other prove space is a myth.
“Show me the angular size of something that gets smaller as you get closer to it…” read the caption, implying that because the Earth appears smaller than the moon in the second photo, it must be inauthentic.
(Screenshot from Instagram)
The post, which comes from an account that has shared a number of false claims suggesting the Earth is flat, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to tackle fake news and misinformation on its News Feed . Instagram is owned by Facebook. (Learn more about our partnership with facebook.)
Here’s why the post is fake.
The top photo was capture by a camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite that orbits around 1 million kilometers from Earth. NASA released the image in 2015 and included it as part of an animation that stitched together several still photos showing the far side of the moon as it crossed in front of Earth.
The second picture dates back to July 20, 1969, when three American astronauts from the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon. This image was indeed, as the post says, taken about 760,000 miles closer to Earth than the 2015 image from the DSCOVR satellite.
Although the two photos are not digitally altered, they do not prove outer space to be fake. The size discrepancy of the Earth in the two photos is a perspective trick that can easily be replicated with any camera and two different sized objects.
Using trinkets from the PolitiFact newsroom, we’ve illustrated why the Earth looks big in one photo and small in the other.
Our two objects?
A vintage PolitiFact mug (Earth) and a Marge Simpson lego (the moon).
(On the left is a side-by-side object comparison of Marge and the cup. The image on the right shows the distance between the objects for our photos.)
After placing our objects about a foot apart, we took two photos – one from a distance and one up close.
(On the left, Marge and the cup captured several feet away. On the right, the same objects, but the photo was taken at a closer distance to the cup and Marge.)
From a distance, the cup looks small and Marge looks smaller. As the camera gets closer in the second picture, right next to Marge, she looks much bigger than the cup, but the cup is still bigger than in the first picture because the camera is closer to the one -this.
But if you zoom in on the objects in the distant photo, as was likely done with NASA’s 2015 Earth image, the cup appears quite large. It looks much larger than the second image, which was taken from a much closer distance to the cup (and also Marge).
(On the left is the distant image zoomed in on the objects. On the right is the same image we shared above.)
So how does an object seem smaller the closer you get to it? This is how. This is a camera trick, not proof that outer space is fake.
There are many other reasons why we know outer space is not wrong. Official space exploration began in 1961 when cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. For more than 600 people followed in his footsteps without gravity. Several rovers were sent to explore the surface of the moon and Mars bringing back rock specimens for distribution to researchers worldwide. Want to see for yourself? Consult a live stream of the International Space Station.
Humans have studied the night sky and the universe beyond since the dawn of mankind, and evidence from space began long before space travel.
In the 7th century BCthe ancient Babylonians tracked and predicted the movement of the planets and constellations. ancient greeks used geometry to measure the circumference of the earth and the distance to the moon and to understand orbits. Now we have government agenciesastrophysicists and astronomers dedicated to the study of space.
The claim that this image shows “space is fake” is inaccurate and ridiculous. That’s our definition of Pants on Fire!
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