About that fake Mars night sky panorama

February 23, 2021

There’s a thing flying around Facebook, and probably other social media sites, that purports to show a panorama of a starry night sky over the Perseverance rover. There are a couple of problems with it.

For one, it’s a fake. The landscape around Perseverance is real, and the sky is real, but it’s an Earth sky, not a Mars sky, and the two have been composited together. How do we know?

  1. If it was dark enough to see all those stars, it would be waaaay too dark to see the ground in front of the rover.
  2. So I checked the NASA website and found the original photo (link): 

EDIT: to be perfectly clear, so there’s no confusion: the Martian landscape is a genuine photographic panorama from NASA, which is shown and linked below, and the night sky is a genuine photographic panorama taken from Earth, and the two have been misleadingly composited by a YouTuber, who I am not going to name or link to because I don’t want to promote his work. NASA didn’t fake anything here!

Not only is the composite a fake, it’s a particularly clumsy and hilarious fake. I realized that since the sky above the horizon at any one time is a hemisphere, there is a 50% chance that Mars would be in the sky in the panorama, and I thought that would be pretty hilarious. So I went looking, and I found it. Here’s the proof:

The ecliptic–the plane on which the sun, moon, and all of the planets appear to move across the sky as seen from Earth–goes right by Regulus. There is no bright star at the circled point, so it must be a planet. And I’m certain that the bright “star” in the image is Mars, because it’s red, and because Jupiter hasn’t been by there in a few years–it’s currently on the other side of the sky.

So the composite panorama has the amazing spectacle of Mars in the night sky above…Mars. That’s a pretty spectacular fail.

This composite thing is bogus and stupid. If it comes your way, don’t give it any likes, or any clicks. Put up a link to this post instead. It’s not like Mars isn’t amazing on its own! Reality doesn’t need any enhancement.


  1. you do know zero planets and stars look blue in the night sky and probably orange or white. And also why would nasa go through millions of dollars to get to mars and fake it?

  2. I’m sorry, I can’t for the life of me figure out what points you are trying to make. For one, there are many planets and stars that show color in the night sky, both to the naked eye and through binoculars and telescopes. Also, I’m not arguing that NASA faked anything. It is perfectly clear from what I wrote that this guy on Facebook took a genuine NASA photograph of the Martian surface and a genuine all-sky photograph of the night sky as seen from Earth and combined them to make a fraudulent and misleading composite.

    Try again, please.

  3. As soon as I saw the image, I thought no way was it real. Good detective work, Matt.

  4. I’ve read that the atmosphere is so thin on Mars that, assuming not dust storms,you can see the stars in daylight if you look straight up but not at an angle as even it’s atmosphere is too thick.be an amazing view.

  5. So where do we go for authentic pictures if the Martian sky then?

  6. NASA! They have regular press releases and photo dumps at https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/.

  7. Hi Matt,
    Might want to change ‘Regulus’ to ‘Aldeberan’ in your annotations.

  8. Hi Mike, look again. One, Aldebaran is on the opposite side of Orion and Sirius from Gemini and the Beehive. Two, if you zoom in on the original, you can see the backward question-mark asterism at the head and paws of Leo. The star near Mars is Regulus, not Aldebaran.

  9. What’s interesting though is that what you would see from Mars or Earth would be nearly identical for objects outside the Solar System – that is, most of what you would see. So, if even being a fake, it’s very close to being a good simulation.

  10. […] early 2021, just after the Perseverance Rover landed on Mars, a purported image of the Martian night sky went viral. In that image, above the sleek metal of a Mars rover, the clearly defined Milky Way cuts from […]

  11. The same except that from Mars you’d see Earth and obviously, although it’s close to leaving our skies for a while,Mars from Earth.Earth, and I think the Moon too?, would go through phases from Mars just like we see Venus and Mercury,well they would too from Mars.Probably not possible to split the Earth Moon naked eye from Mars?I reckon even a really low magnification like 3x would make the Earth Moon split? Another obvious addition would be Mars’s two moons,plus Venus would be dimmer, Mercury very challenging, Jupiter would be brighter, Saturn a bit brighter,I think that Uranus and Neptune are too remote to make much difference with Mars being a bit closer to them?

  12. An addition to the fakery evidence: if you look closely (zoom in) around the horizon-line, you can find places where the stars appear to be directly in front of the distant mountains, and other places where there is a gap between the tops of the mountains and the beginning of the stars. In the latter case, the beginning of the stars is a straight line, like the edge of a photo. A really poor job of Photoshopping the join between the two photos.

  13. Examining the position of Mars (near Regulus) and Saturn (near Spica), the sky image was recorded sime time in late April 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: