On the night of Feb. 27, a geomagnetic storm caused Northern Lights to be visible in Europe at unusually low latitudes. And lots of photos
of the lights soon began to appear online.
So thanks to Marco for giving us a heads up
about this fake image that's begun circulating
, purporting to show the aurora from space (with some tweets claiming it's a photo taken from the International Space Station).
The quick summary is that this isn't a photo at all. It's an artist's conception of what an aurora would look like from space.
But as Marco points out, this isn't how an aurora would actually look like from space, since there's no atmosphere visible in the image (no clouds). And the aurora is incorrectly positioned over the true Pole rather than the Geomagnetic pole.
Read Marco's article for a fuller debunking
The original source of the image isn't known. Marco notes that some sources say it's a graphic from an unidentified "NASA video". But the scientific errors in the image cause Marco to doubt that.
Doing a Google image search, the earliest appearance of the image online that I could find is in a March 30, 2013 posting on the "Astro Bob" blog
. That blog is run by Bob King, a photo editor for the Duluth News Tribune
and amateur astronomer. He also credits the image to NASA, captioning it as an "Artist illustration of the northern auroral oval on planet Earth."
King doesn't provide a link to the NASA source, but he seems to know what he's talking about. So if he says it's a NASA image, I'm willing to take his word for it (in the absence of any other credible source info).
Perhaps the image used to be on a NASA site, but has since been deleted.