FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show The Northern Lights In Alaska?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook over 27,000 times allegedly shows the northern lights in Alaska.

Verdict: False

The image is actually a piece of digital artwork. It combines a digital render of mountains with a photo of the Orion Nebula.

Fact Check:

The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, is a natural phenomenon resulting from “collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere,” according to the Northern Lights Centre. They can take the form of patterns such as “rippling curtains, pulsating globs, traveling pulses, or steady glows,” the Library of Congress explains in an article.

Over 27,000 Facebook users have shared an image purportedly depicting the northern lights above an Alaskan mountain range. That image, however, is actually a piece of digital artwork. The DeviantArt user Jeddaka uploaded the piece, titled “Through the Clouds, Night,” to the art-sharing website in 2009.

In the caption on DeviantArt, the artist described the piece as “photoshop for postwork” and linked to a digital “daytime render” of the same mountains that appear in the image being shared on Facebook. The color phenomenon visible in the sky in the piece comes from a photo of the Orion Nebula that can be found on Wikimedia Commons. It was added to the nighttime mountain digital rendering.

The artist confirmed in an email to Check Your Fact that “this image was not taken in Alaska” and is “actually a digital render” made “using VUE7.” (RELATED: Does This Video Show Footage Captured By The Perseverance Mars Rover)

Photos of the northern lights over Alaskan towns can be viewed on AP Images.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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