Fact Check

The 'Eye of God' Photographed by Hubble Space Telescope

A photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope showing a nebula dubbed the 'Eye of God' is an artificially colored composite, not a single unretouched image.

Published Feb 4, 2004

A photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a nebula dubbed the 'Eye of God.'
What's True

The image is based on photographs of the Helix Nebula captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

What's False

The image is a composite of multiple photographs (including some taken by a land-based telescope) and has been artificially tinted.

The above-displayed image is a real photograph of the Helix Nebula, although it's technically not a single photograph but rather a composite image formed from several photographs taken by NASA's orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and a land-based telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona. This image was NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day" for 10 May 2003.

The Helix Nebula does not naturally appear with the colors shown above; however, the tinting of the image is artificial. The picture's "Eye of God" appellation is a title coined by an admirer of the photograph due to the nebula's resemblance to a human eye, not something designated by NASA, and the nebula is also visible all the time, not merely "once in 3000 years."

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.