The Helix Nebula
Home Faux Images and Videos Eye Of God Image – Hubble Telescope Email

Eye Of God Image – Hubble Telescope Email

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Circulating message that includes an image described as the ‘Eye of God’ claims the image captures a rare event that only occurs once every 3000 years. 

Brief Analysis

The image is genuine, but the description includes false information.

Example

Subject: FW: Hubble picture, the eye of GOD

This photo is a very rare one, taken by NASA. This kind of event occurs once in 3000 years.

This is a picture NASA took with the hubble telescope.

Called “The Eye of God”.

Too awesome to delete. It is worth sharing.

Eye of God Image

God loves you and watches over you every day.

Detailed Analysis

The image included in this email forward does indeed represent a real celestial object. However, the description that arrives with the image is inaccurate.

The picture is a composite image of the Helix Nebula and was NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for May 10th 2003. The Helix Nebula is a planetary nebula that formed at the end of life of a star and is estimated by scientists to be as close as 450 light years from our Sun. Images taken from the Hubble telescope were combined with others taken from an Earth-based observatory to form this quite compelling picture. According to information on NASA’s HubbleSite:

The composite picture is a seamless blend of ultra-sharp NASA Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images combined with the wide view of the Mosaic Camera on the National Science Foundation’s 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, near Tucson, Ariz.

While the image does indeed resemble a giant eye, there is no record of NASA actually referring to it as “The Eye of God”. It is not clear who first called the image “The Eye of God”, but the name appears to have “stuck” for obvious reasons. A number of non-NASA websites refer to the image by this name. In fact, other planetary nebulas have also been called “The Eye of God”, including the Hourglass Nebula, MyCn18
The Helix Nebula is actually a vast tunnel of glowing gases a trillion kilometres long. Since Earth’s position in relation to the nebula means we are looking more or less directly into the mouth of this tunnel, Helix appears to us as an eye-like bubble rather than a cylinder.

The claim that the “event” only occurs once in three thousand years is pure nonsense. The Helix Nebula is readily viewable by scientists all the time and can even be seen by amateur astronomers using telescopes or binoculars. Naturally, due to the composite nature of the image and the high-powered telescopes and photographic equipment used to create it, the nebula is unlikely to look as compelling or as “eye-like” from the ground as it does in the emailed image.

In spite of the inaccurate description, the picture is certainly a delight to behold. One wonders why somebody felt the need to make up a nonsensical explanation to go with the picture. Such amazing natural phenomena virtually speak for themselves.



Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer