This photo is (another) example of how optical illusions mess with your mind.
First you see a picture of the Earth from space and then… pic.twitter.com/ilT3DngJJQ
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) April 4, 2023
Have you ever seen breathtaking images taken by astronauts aboard the ISS? The curvature of the Earth dominates the composition, while the blue ocean and green fragments of land shine below. In the background, the pitch black space is dotted with bright stars. As much as you'd think this description fits the image above, the truth is that this photo is an optical illusion.
Anyone who comes across the picture may argue about the presence of clouds, atmospheric layers, and the unmistakable blue of the ocean, but the real trick lies in the angle of the image. Rotate it about 120º and you'll see that the supposed curvature of our planet is no more than a horizon line. The picture was indeed taken right here on Earth.
In reality, the picture depicts the skyline of Manila, taken during a particularly colorful sunset from a tall building on Katipunan Avenue. The image was taken Jamo Fevidal, who posted it all the way back in February 2016. Now, it has reached viral status after user Massimo (aka @Rainmaker1973) reshared it to make a point about how optical illusions mess with our brain.
If you didn't get it at first, you're not alone! Many people were left wondering about what they were looking at until they turned their phones upside down. This is just one more in the long list of optical illusions that catch us off guard and leave us scratching our heads.
But why does it happen? “Optical illusions happen when our brain and eyes try to speak to each other in simple language but the interpretation gets a bit mixed-up,” writes the University of Queensland. “For example, it thinks our eyes told it something is moving but that’s not what the eyes meant to say to the brain.” While it remains a mystery how brain and eyes work together to make sense of these optical illusions, it's always fun and interesting to learn about how we process images in real time.
The image above seems to depict the curvature of Earth, but the truth is that it's an optical illusion!
Earth from space or Katip skyline? pic.twitter.com/gEEhwSOVvd
— Jamo (@jamouflage) February 18, 2016
Rotating it about 120º makes it abundantly clear, but even rotating just 90º will show you that the supposed curvature of our planet is actually a horizon line. The picture was indeed taken right here on Earth.
— James Limmer (@JamesLimmer) April 5, 2023