From the man in the moon to Greek gods among the stars, humans have long been discovering familiar forms in the heavens.
There’s a word for this phenomenon of seeing patterns that don’t exist: pareidolia. And it’s all psychological.
While this mind-trick may have served some evolutionary purpose, like helping us recognize mountian lions in the bush, it also leads to some pretty crazy interpretations.
Here, we offer some of the best examples of pareidolia with help from humanity’s most powerful telescopes.
The stunningly beautiful butterfly nebula was created by a dying star that became extremely hot. It shines brightly in ultraviolet light hidden from view by a dense cloud of dust that resembles a butterfly’s wings in this image taken by Hubble in 2009.
When NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft was circling Mars in 1976, it spotted this unusual image of what looks uncannily like a human face in a region of the planet called Cydonia.
But when NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor flew over the region again in 1998 and 2001, sharper images revealed the face to be a natural land form.
NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
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via Business Insider http://read.bi/1Njf44I