In The Dark
Date Added: Aug. 21, 2003
Satellite photographs are often amazing, but many chain letters about satellite photographs show how little the general public knows about them. Popular e-mail satellite photos are often misinterpreted, mistaken to be something they're not or complete works of fiction. This one fits the last category.
Fw: This is a picture of last week's Northeast Outage from space!
The picture in the message above is a fanciful creation of what someone felt the Northeast Blackout of August 14, 2003 might have looked like from space. However, the image shows some obvious signs of editing and is inconsistent with reports of the blackout and other known facts.
Among the signs this is a hoax:
The picture above appears to a crude Photoshop hoax created from an image posted on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day web site, November 27, 2000. Even that picture is not totally genuine, as it is a composite of hundreds of satellite images. Fact is, it's very difficult to get a compelling photo of such a wide area with a single satellite camera.
As an experiment, I decided to take that original and see if I could come up with an equally convincing fake. It only took me about 5 minutes and I think you'll agree that mine is a much more amazing image:
Seriously, though, the U.S. Air Force Weather Service has provided images of the affected area before and during the blackout. While there is a noticeable reduction in visible lights, you can see the loss was not total.
Once again, we discover that the truth just isn't as dramatic or compelling as what our minds and photoshop can create. Break this chain.
References: Air Force Weather, NASA APOD