This image has showed up on the internet from time to time over the years. It’s usually sent as a forwarded email with the subject line “Sunset at the North Pole,” and a body which reads

Sunset at the north pole…


A scene you will probably never get to see.
This is the sunset at the North Pole with the moon at its closest point.
You also see the sun below the moon.
An amazing photo and not one easily duplicated.
You may want to pass it on to others.
The Chinese have a saying:
‘When someone shares with you something of value,
you have an obligation to share it with others.’

The last time it was sent to me was in March of 2007; apparently it’s making the rounds again, because it was forwarded to me by two different people today.

It’s a cool image, but it’s not a photograph. I say that not as a photographer, but as someone who paid attention in High School science classes. From Wikipedia:

The angular diameter of the Sun is about the same as that of the Moon…

What that means is that when you look at the sun and the moon, they appear to be approximately the same size when viewed from Earth. The disparity in sizes in this image is a scientific impossibility.

That doesn’t mean that it’s not a pretty nice piece of art. It’s just not a photograph. That also doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate getting it from people who want to send me something nice. It’s just that I’m a geek, and I can’t let a misrepresentation like this slide. Thanx for sending it to me, guys. I really do like it. And I appreciate the thought behind it.

And if the creator of this art work is reading this: please let me know who you are, so I can give you proper credit. I don’t like publishing without attribution.

Much later: Oh, and there’s no open water at the North Pole, either. Except in the fevered imaginations of the Glowball Warmening cultists.

Update, 18 February 2009:

Commenter Haggas says:

Her name is Inga Nielsen


So. Mystery solved. And now I can say that the image is copyrighted by Inga Nielsen. Head on over to her site to view her amazing artwork.

Thanx, Haggas.


6 Responses to “Fauxtography”

  1. Haggas Says:

    Her name is Inga Nielsen


  2. lizardbrain Says:

    Thank you very much! I’ll add the info to the body of the post.

  3. Haggas Says:

    No problem. Like you, I’m a geek too and while this is a stunning piece of art the geek in me just couldn’t let it slide either. Snopes was rather helpful in finding Inga’s site.

  4. Seester Says:

    DON says: “you need a T.V. or something”.
    Me? I just laughed. You are too geek for words!
    P.S. I enjoyed the artwork, too.

  5. mari ana biossat Says:

    I like my imagination better then your “logic” and photography expertise. Let people dream. Keep your brains tucked tightly inside your head so as not to disturb other’s enjoyments. Thank you.

  6. lizardbrain Says:


    Poor reading comprehension… check.

    Offended by “logic”… check.

    Inability to express coherent thoughts in writing… check.

    Overweening need to stifle opinions which “disturb” you… check.

    Let me guess, mari ana biossat: you think of yourself as “progressive.”


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