Claim: Photograph shows a satellite view of a blackout in eastern North America.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, May 2012]
Origins: This image has been circulated as a satellite photograph of
the great blackout which struck the northeastern United States and Canada on the afternoon of
None of those events produced a power outage produce nearly as total a zone of blackness as depicted in the image shown above. Even in the great blackout of 2003, artificial light was still quite visible throughout many parts of the northeastern region, as shown in the photograph below:
satellite images processed by the Air Force Weather Agency and available on the web site the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show the extent of the blacked-out area at
The original picture is a composite image of nighttime North America which someone has manipulated with an editing program to darken the northeastern area. Reasons why this is obviously so include the following:
- Pictures such as the one displayed above are not simple snapshots; they are composite images formed from multiple pictures taken by a variety of satellites at different times. If the image above were actually a photograph (rather than a composite image) taken at
11:15 EasternTime, then much of North American would be obscured by clouds, the western portion of the continent would still be bathed by at least partial sunlight at the time of the photo, and the Earth’s curvature would be noticeable in the picture.
- There is no such satellite as the “ISAT GeoStar 45.”
- Satellite images are usually date-stamped with times corresponding to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) rather than a particular local time zone. Even if Eastern Time were being used for date-stamping purposes by whatever agency processed this image, in August nearly all of the eastern U.S. and Canada is on Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) rather than Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Last updated: 1 November 2012
Associated Press. “Mid-Atlantic Blackouts Drag On, Commute Troubles Ahead.” KGW-TV [Portland, OR]. 2 July 2002.