NASA’s Earth Observatory keeps coming up with winners. When this image was posted, I spent a great deal of time staring at the screen and saying, “Huh?”
My wife and I are both map people. Our office walls are covered with huge maps of Oregon, the world, and Iberia. Our bookcases are full of atlases. We have very specific visualizations of the places we’ve lived in or have seen…and then something like this comes along and throws a mental map all out of whack.
The Iberian map on my office wall is oriented with north at the top, and assumes a perspective from dead center, meaning the perceived distances from the viewer to all points on the map are essentially the same. But this image is taken from a satellite screaming across the globe, approaching Iberia from the southwest. The distances from the viewer to various points on the peninsula are decidedly not the same, and that changes everything. The coastlines are distorted, cities aren’t the “right” distance from each other, and the Gulf of Cádiz is all wrong. It’s Iberia askew, and it’s fascinating!
How do astronauts get anything done up there? I’d be spending all my time with my nose pressed against the window, watching oddly shaped landmasses going by and saying, “Wait, was that…no, that’s not right…oh, I guess it was!”
For more out of whack fun, check out the time lapse video from which this image was taken.