View of the Earth from space

Something that has always bothered me is why all pictures of Earth taken from space look like this:

Why don’t they ever look like this:

“Well, Josh, the second picture is upside down.”

Is it?

Space continues on in all directions indefinitely.  Because there is no end to space, there is no direction as we know it.  Up and down and left and right don’t exist.  Did you know that once in space, the floor of the space craft becomes a usable area for storage?  Why?  Because, the floor isn’t the floor anymore.  It’s becomes the roof, walls and floor all rolled into one the instant that weightlessness occurs. 

Back to my point… 

Since sense of direction doesn’t occur, why are all photos of Earth sent back to us oriented perfectly centered somewhere around the Equator with North American directly to the top and South America directly to the bottom?  Does our Government think we can’t handle the sight of our Earth as it naturally appears as opposed to how they think we should see it? 

I can’t tell you why, but this has frustrated me (not frustrated like a wanna punch a hole in my wall, so much as it give me a chuckle whenever I see one of these images) for many years.  So, today I went in search of a picture from space that doesn’t look like the roll down atlas my 3rd grade teach has hanging above the chalkboard.  Here is the best that I could find:

This a picture of the Earth taken from the surface of the moon.  Somewhere in my head I am finally proud of myself for uncovering a picture that clearly shows the Earth on its side.  Wait…The Earth doesn’t have a side.  Its an oblate spheroid, but even if it had sides, they still wouldn’t be sides since there is no direction.  Sigh…they would just be…well whatever. 

In any case, enjoy the view of a “sideways” Africa.   

Happy Friday.


3 thoughts on “View of the Earth from space

  1. Great page and fully agree that there is no up or down view of earth. Each alien race would have their own view of Earth as seen from their planet…

  2. I think you are too anal. the reason for that orientation is because it is more easily recognizable by us because we are taught growing up to identify states countries and continents by shapes and sizes so that the brain has relational reference to the geography being taught. So it is much easier to recognize that this is earth because the countries and continents look the way we have learned to see them. Its not about correctness in association to reality its about perception and acceptance.

    • I love that this post still gets views and it is something so simple and yet so provocative that I’ve drawn your ire enough for you to call me “anal”.

      In fact, it’s the folks at NASA that are anal in their relentless pursuit of photographing the Earth in an orientation that we all recognize. If I was charged with taking the pictures from space, I wouldn’t take the time to be so “anal”. This, I can assure you.

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