7 Common Astronomy Myths Exposed and Explained

There are a lot of myths circulating about astronomy and the great expanse beyond Earth’s gravity. Here, we explore 7 common myths and explain the reality behind the myth.

Bad Astronomy

Join us as we takes a critical look at some popular myths and misconceptions. Credit: Lourdes Uni/Bad Astronomy

  • 1. The Great Wall of China is visible from the moon.

There is a common myth that says the Great Wall of China is visible either from the moon or the Earth’s orbit. However, if you’re standing on the moon and looking at Earth without a telescope, you could only see objects that are 70 miles across. Astronauts have confirmed that there are no man-made objects visible at that scale – all that you can see is a sphere that’s mostly white with blue, yellow, and occasional green patches. Even the International Space Station has not spotted the Wall, which is only 30 feet wide even though it’s 5,500 miles long.

  • 2. The full moon increases crime and birth rates.

This myth is tied into popular culture, and people tend to say ‘it must be a full moon’ when unusual things happen or crimes are committed. This myth was probably created a long time ago, when most people weren’t aware of the moon’s phases with the exception of the full moon and something happened when they could see the moon. 

  • 3. There is a dark side of the moon.

The sun shines on both sides of the moon, the one that faces us and the other side. The only time the whole back side of the moon is dark is when it’s full moon and the whole front side is lit up. Just like Earth, the moon will always be half in sunlight and half in shadow, but that’s just what we see. If there was an astronaut on the other side of the moon, they could see the other side and it would be sunlit.

  • 4. Objects in the telescope look like the photographs.

The pictures that we all see of galaxies, nebulas, and other deep sky objects don’t actually look the way they do online and in magazines. In reality, they’re too faint or tenuous to register for our eye color receptors. With the exception of colorful planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, most objects in an astronomical sense appear gray. There are a couple of exception, like the Orion Nebula, which is pale green or pink and green depending on the telescope, and some stars. Also, the details are usually faint and misty, not crisp and sharp like we see in photography. 

  • 5. There is no gravity in outer space. 

This one is a funny myth that was created after we saw astronauts floating in and out of the space station, and we assumed their weightlessness meant they didn’t experience gravity. However, it’s actually because they’re in a state of free fall while orbiting the Earth. They are travelling forward while falling to Earth, but don’t risk hitting the ground because they’re going fast enough to go around the Earth’s curvature. If there was no gravity, every satellite orbiting Earth would zoom into outer space, as would the moon and Earth.

  • 6. The moon landing is a conspiracy.

This is a controversial one that is still being debated today. There are recent photos of landing platforms, footsteps from the astronauts, and other things left on the moon’s surface by the crew of Apollo, but this is still an idea popular to some. In addition to the irrefutable proof just listed, there are also over 800 pounds of lunar rocks returned from the mission and in the possession of researchers. If the landings were faked, we could assume that at least one of the thousands of people involved would have revealed the truth for money or gain. 

  • 7. There’s sound in space.

Space is almost empty of particles, so sound can’t travel. Everything happening in space happens in silence. There is a chance that a nebula might have some sounds because of the gas and dust, but we couldn’t remove a helmet to listen in any case. …..There are more than just these myths, but these are some common ones that circulate frequently. 

*Ellie Coverdale is a marketing writer for UK Writings and Boom Essays. She is interested in learning fun facts about different topics and investigating strange topics to get to the bottom of myths and legends. Ellie also teaches important writing skills at Essay roo.


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