FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A ‘Sunset At The North Pole’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows a “sunset at the North Pole” in which both the sun and moon are visible in the sky.



Verdict: False

The image shows a piece of digital artwork, not a photo of a sunset at the North Pole.

Fact Check:

In the image, the sun appears to be setting over a mountain range near a body of water as a giant crescent moon looms above it. (RELATED: Does This Image Show ‘Earth, Venus And Jupiter As Seen From Mars’?)

One Facebook user described the image as showing a “beautiful view of sunset at the North Pole with the Moon,” while another wrote,”This is the sunset at the North Pole with the moon at its closest point last week. A scene you will probably never get to see in person, so take a moment and enjoy. And, you see the sun below the moon.”

The image, however, is not an authentic photo of a North Pole sunset. Instead, it is a piece of digital artwork created by artist Inga Nielsen over a decade ago, a reverse image search revealed. The piece, titled “Hideaway,” can be found on the online art gallery Deviant Art, where Nielsen said it was created with Photoshop and the scenery generating software Terragen.

“After someone spread it on the web as photograph of a ‘Sunset at the north pole,’ this image became quite popular,” Nielsen wrote on Deviant Art. “It is of course not a photo and it does not show a place anywhere near the terrestrial north pole.”

Nielsen’s piece was featured as NASA’s “Astronomy Picture of the Day” in 2006. In the caption, it explained that the scene in the digital artwork “could not exist anywhere on the Earth because from the Earth, the Moon and the Sun always have nearly the same angular size.”

The inaccurate claim that it shows a “sunset at the North Pole” was also debunked by astronomer Phil Plait in a 2011 article for Discover Magazine.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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