But there are resources, tips, and telltale signs to keep you from being duped.
“Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.” –Ismail Haniyeh
Space, the skies and the Universe offer beautiful sights, but for some people that just isn’t enough.
Sometimes, natural landscapes are artificially enhanced, Photoshopped, or layered with fake astronomical additions.
Other times, the worst offense is an incredibly misleading caption, turning an illustration or simulation into a big lie.
Fortunately, there are some telltale signs you can look for to help you spot a fake from a mile away.
Some simply have unnatural colors added: there are no pink or purple stars.
Others show very bright and very faint objects, like daylight and stars, together in the same picture.
Others use elements of real (often famous) photos, but surreptitiously combine them with additional elements.
If you recognize the originals, the fakery becomes even more obvious.
The direction of the light needs to be consistent, and shadows/reflections don’t always line up.
Some fakes are very good, and require an expert eye and attention-to-detail to spot.
Others are obvious.
Others display unrealistic skyscapes that could never occur in real life.
By far the most common fake is to add an extra, often too-large moon.
Still, not every beautiful, spectacular shot is a fake.
Twitter accounts FakeAstroPix and PicPedant always tell the difference.
Mostly Mute Monday tells the story of an astronomical object, category or phenomenon in visuals, pictures, and no more than 200 words.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.