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Claim: The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the moon.
Origins: The claim that China's Great Wall is the only
If we take "space" to mean a low Earth orbit such as the one traveled by the Space Shuttle (roughly
We look for the Great Wall of China. Although we can see things as small as airport runways, the Great Wall seems to be made largely of materials that have the same color as the surrounding soil. Despite persistent stories that it can be seen from the moon, the Great Wall is almost invisible from onlyAn object that can barely be seen from a height of
The only thing you can see from the moon is a beautiful sphere, mostly white (clouds), some blue (ocean), patches of yellow (deserts), and every once in a while some green vegetation. No man-made object is visible on this scale. In fact, when first leaving earth's orbit and only a few thousand miles away, no man-made object is visible at that point either."(The Great Wall of China can be discerned in radar images taken from space, but not in ordinary photographs.)
Where did this belief come from? The exact source is unknown, but an important citing comes from Richard Halliburton's Second Book of Marvels, the Orient,
An even earlier source, Henry Norman's 1904 The People and Politics of the Far East states: "Besides its age it enjoys the reputation of being the only work of human hands on the globe visible from the moon."
Whatever its source, since the Great Wall claim antedates man's launching of satellites (and thereby the possibility of photography from space) by decades, it was not the outgrowth of a misinterpreted photograph taken by satellite or a manned space mission. The Great Wall of China extends for some
Last updated: 6 September 2010
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