Myth or Fact? #31 – The great Wall of China can be seen from the Moon

in science •  2 years ago 

Welcome my dear Steemian friends to a new episode of Myth or Fact! A series in which we will show that some common believes are myths while others turn out to be true.

“...3, 2 ,1, Lift off!”. Being pressed hard against your seat the rocket takes off. You feel the adrenaline rushing through every single cell of your body. With an insane speed you are on your way towards moon! Don't forget to take Steem with you.

The lunar distance is approximately 385,000 km and it would take you around 3 days to get there. Finally you reached your destination and placed your foot on the surface of the moon. You look towards earth and see the perfect blue marble. What a beautiful view that only very few people in the history of humanity were granted to see live.

And there you see it, China! You know it's China since you can see The great Wall of China. With 6350 km length it's the largest building on earth.

But let's slow down for a second. Can we humans really see buildings from the moon? What's your guess? Today we will discover the truth behind this myth.

Let's go!

Human eyesight

We will talk about the resolution of the human eye and and in short how eyesight works. If you want to know more about the sensation of sight I recommend you to read my post Life Explorers - The Human Senses Part I: Sight.

Our retina has approximately 6 million cones and 120 million rods. When the reflected light hits our retina these cells become active. We have three different type of cone cells, S(-hort), M-(medium) and L-(ong) cones. Short, medium and long refer to the wavelength the cell is responding to. The rods however can work with different wavelengths and thus do not matter when it comes to color. They are responsible for brightness and become active when there is less light. While the cones are active and working we speak of photopic vision, responsible for color sight. Scotopic vision is the terminus for sight in low light and only seeing in shades of gray.

Fig. 1 Eye and retinal profile. Source: Kevinmd

As described the human retina has three kinds of cones. Each sensitive to a different wavelength. The following illustrations depicts the relation of wavelength and cones. These three cones together make it possible that we see colors. By combining cones we are able to see over 200 million different colors.

Fig. 2 Spectral sensitivity of the receptor (rods and cones). Source: Wikibooks; Sensory Systems

What really matters it the resolution of the human eye, the distinguishability of very fine structures and the visual acuity. If you have been to a eye doctor you might know this chart with letters. They become smaller and smaller and you will notice it becomes harder and harder to identify the letters. This has something to do with your acuity.

Fig. 3 Snellen chart Source

Acuity is a property of our cones. The area on the retina with the highest density of cones is called fovea and is in the center of the retina. This is the spot where we have the highest acuity and see the sharpest. The acuity drops radically from there.

Fig. 4 Acuity of human eye Source

To keep it simple: It's is not possible to see any buildings on earth. The limiting factor is the resolution of the human eye. In Fact you won't even be able to see specific countries. From a distance of over 380,000 km all you can see is blue and white. The clouds would make it more or less impossible to see the buildings, besides they are too small to be seen.

Charles M. Duke (Apollo 16) and Eugene A. Cernan (Apollo 17) both confirmed they were not able to see any structures from the moon.

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Thanks for reading this episode of Myth or Fact! If you enjoyed it feel free to resteem and leave a comment! I would love to know what you think about todays episode!

Do you love photography? Then I hope you didn't miss my recent MyPictureSunday Episode where I went to Paris. You can see it here MyPictureSunday#10 - Last day in Paris + MyPictureDay Challenge Round #3. You should participate in the contest and win some Steem Power!


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I hope one-day to have enough money to travel to China and have a good tourist visit

Don't worry , soon China will come to you, they are taking over the world. Give them a couple of years and you will see that wall moved at the border with US , Trump wanted a wall ..... The Great wall is coming :))

Actually going to China in 5 days. And as a chinese person I have to say that you are more than welcome. I hope our different customs won't bother you and that you will be able to enjoy our culture to the fullest!

And I hope you will make some great posts. Cheers

great post brother hope ya well

Soon all steemians will be on the moon from booming price of STEEM and BITCOIN... So we will all know sooner then later :)

hahha not so soon. Bitcoin up in 1 year...

Superb creation of the mankind which shows the great civilization of China.

serious shit physics here.....
Save it for tmr to read :)

... ridiculous comment... is this a joke?

Why r you flagging me?

sorry dear but you looked for it... using general language and the word SHIT.

and I went thru the post, did you?

red flag because by your comment well yes, I understand you are telling @timsaid article is some kind of shit.

I meant (serious shit) physics...
come on....
of coz I didn't, I said I'm gonna save it for tmr

@digitalplayer, even if someone is telling this article to be a shit, everyone has the right to put one's opinion. Why this make you to raise a red flag?

so he have the right to tell shit to people and I cannot put red flag? your comment is not consistent my dear...

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Well, I probably didn't understand you. Was that the word "shit" which you took it literally and felt offended or was it Johnny's apparent disagreement with the views / facts expressed in the article? I don't think he is telling shit to people but yes, he hasn't come up with his explanations for his stand. May be he wants to say that the arguments put forward to dispel the prevalent myth are not too strong or include some shitty principles of physics and there might be a better way to explain the same thing with better and consistent arguments. Whatever!

But I really feel that there wasn't anything substantial to invoke a red flag. However every one has got their own perception and can exercise their right of raising a red flag. I was just giving my opinion on it. Do as you like.

the advocate of the shit word. nice!!

What happened was @digitalplayer thought you were criticizing the physics when you were just saying the physics was "some serious shit" meaning, so involved you had to save it to come back to.

ya that was exactly what I mean
Thanks for understanding my comment lol

Nice post, I've always wondered about this one!!

Interesting :)

This is a well-argued post. And it's short and to-the-point and nothing superfluous in it.

However, as a series that always trends, and that is important in the popularization of science here on Steemit, I am a bit saddened that it contains so many grammar mistakes! You make a lot of money, so wouldn't it be possible for you to run the article through someone before publishing it? You could pick somebody from Fiverr, for instance, or someone right here on Steemit. It wouldn't take them long, considering how concise your articles are. You could give them 10 SD or whatever, or maybe someone would do it for free. It just seems a shame because your articles are rather good and easy to understand and they promote science.

Anyway, hope this comment doesn't appear impolite!


Thanks Tim for saving me a trip to the moon! And for teaching me some interesting facts about vision. @roused

As I people from China, I can tell you that it is a myth!

Well done post You deserve for getting Upvote from me. I appreciate on it and like it so much . Waiting for your latest post. Keep your good work and steeming on. Let's walk to my blog. I have a latest post. Your upvote is high motivation for me. Almost all Steemians do their best on this site. Keep steeming and earning.

This comment has received a 0.09 % upvote from @booster thanks to: @hamzaoui.

Thank you for this one, it was one of my questions since I was a child but at that point I found nobody to answer and I forgot about in after. The same with another question: Why is the snow white? For this one I got the answer through chemistry in high-school. Glad to find this kind of content on steemit, thanks for sharing.

Cool post!

Except the moon is the myth. NASA has deceived you all.


is it True that the moon is really a Space-ship?

Either that or a projection from Jupiter I think.

Yeah man, I watched moon phases, and they make no sense. Then, when lot's of people notice they make no sense, Nasa jokers come up with moon terminator effect, bending light joke, which is totally wrong since Earth would have been the attractor of all that light :)

So through all these years we were living in a wrong belief system, I always thought the myth to be correct.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Definitely a MTYH. Have you been to the moon?

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Follow me @Yehey
Thank you.

Let's see! Got some of both

I'm sure I wouldn't be able to see it without help, I can't recognize a person from 30 feet, much less a wall from 385,000 Kms.

Exactly. Not possible

same here, ahime' .

Good way to put it, drive the point home even further!

Interesting post.

Great share, thanks!

Good quality content right there!

thats interesting

Yes, that makes sense. Even though our eyes have infinite range, the resolution is not infinite as already explained about you. Basically, we would need a satellite or telescopic vision to view that great wall of China from the moon!!


Always thought this was true....What about the Great Barrier reef??

Both the Great Wall of China and the Great Barrier Reef are possible to spot from space, like the international space station, but the moon is 30 earths away from the earth so it's a lot longer.

good for china

Thanks for the insite! You always make me think twice about the things we seem to have accepted as truth!

Probably the only human made thing that can be seen from the moon are nuclear bomb testing detonations...and Donald Trump's arrogance.

Bam! Well played!!!

I would love to go to China one day as well. It's at the top of my list. Maybe when XRP reaches $5 haha

Great read very informative. Are you aware rockets hit speeds 10x faster than a speeding bullet to get out of earths atmosphere? At least NASA tells us this, the human mind boggles as to how human bones are not crushed under the amount of pressure exhumed by 1.2 million pounds of of thrust . I've been doing some calculations and there's some interesting numbers coming about that do not make sense...anyone interested look up the Apollo 11 specs keep in mind humans were on board and passed through the Van Allen radiation belts unscathed. I'm very sceptical.

I thought, they say, you can see it from space, not Moon

Good posting. I like that you went into detail.
I saw someone say they wish they had the money to travel to China. Me too...but I wish for the funds and capability to travel to the moon.
Maybe to put your blog to the test.

Get me to the moon ;-)

Myth due to the distance, you can not see any thing on earth from the moon.

Great post Tim!

Well done! I am on a mission right now to fly to the moon with #paragliding.
I like that you took your time to put the eye facts/info in the post to challenge the idea that you can or cannot see the great wall of china.
(the sound of flat earthers typing)

I've been there... in sector 23 and 64. .... what moon region are you on?

I will look you up when I get there. Its still just a bucket list item at this point.

HolySmoke! Attention on Deck! Captain' here too !!

winking noise*

Funny, the other day I had a talk with my friend how amazing it is we can see the moon so big and bright, even the craters. Okay fair enough we werent at the Chinese wall but surely the other way around is a fact!

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

I did some research and it seems the "myth" of being able to see the Great Wall from the Moon was started long before we had even started space travel, speculated on by amateur astronomers, yes, but nobody had actually been in space yet to prove it. In actuality, because the materials used give the wall a color similar to that of the surrounding landscape, the great wall is barely even visible from the Space Station in low Earth orbit.

Since this is not a political issue, this Snopes post is actually well-cited:

Good digging.

I think this is a myth. Know when i read Chine grat wall i just remembered the movie :) Have a nice day !!

.. a myth, yes. As @timsaid article points out

lol! :D


Well this one I guess is a bit obvious that it's just a myth. And like you've said, our eyes don't have the resolution capable of seeing buildings from that far. Great post as always !

nothing is obvious my friend.

did someone say obvious?

YArrr !

Well I guess it depends how people define "space". Crashing from a space station things can get pre-tty, pre-tty fast.

Really high-quality and insightful. Keep it up!

Why can't someone who has been on the moon tell us? pfft!

Very interesting fact! Makes complete sense. Thanks for sharing :)

We cannot see the Great Wall of China because Earth is flat, and the moon is like a disk...:P
Great post! Many interesting things out here which brings me here (despite I'm only a housewife who sing sometimes). Upvoted and followed! If you like check out my blog. Cheers from Poland

And all this time I thought the Earth was Flat!... My world has been shattered :p


I think with no obscurement and with a little aid like eyeglasses, we can be able to see the great wall of china from the moon.

Thank you for sharing information, the more you start getting a lot of knowledge for me, good work continue his work.

I have to see it for myself in reallife first!

:) I would join to others - and would add my comment about nothing too

Seriously: thank you for your efforts to educate steemians

Thank you! Great to know

Ah Yes, China. Visited it once. Saw the great wall upclose. Was a quick visit. Interesting setup you have here @timsaid Lots of research. Maybe I should forward your details to the R&D at Wayne Enterprises. I know a guy who works there.

Thanks for the feedback! Would be great to have a contact there. Let me know :) p.s.: I can be Robin

Robin? You can be whoever you want to be. I'll talk to Lucius and come back to you. In the meantime, can you figure out a way to make my suit more flexible?

Super post @timsaid !
Always wondered where this myth comes from in the first place. Of all the structures one would guess could be visible from space, why go for something as narrow as a wall?

I'm sure I would see the Chinese wall from the moon, but I can not prove it to you because I'm not on the moon. ... I'm glad I didn't because I do not like being high ...

Physics proving it right.

What a big myth...when I started reading I thought it was true that we can see that wall from the moon. Turns out we cant even make out anything on earth from that far off distance. Thank you for sharing.

Thank you for reading

Fantastic post dude! I always thought it was a myth!

Very nice :)

Can we see Mt. Everest from the moon?
Good post :)

Very interesting because the myth is very strong and enduring. My suspicions have been confirmed!

Nicely done article. There is a very simple analogy that you can use too. Seeing the Great Wall of China from the Moon, is like seeing a single human hair from four miles away.

Probably need to go to the moon to find out! Can you provide me with transport though? :D

We have a Steemian who could

pshh the moon is watching china noob

L to the o to the l

I like the series.

Well done



Steem on my friend!

It seems like I have to prove it myself, Thanks @timsaid

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Don't loose your hope if others not then you can prove these shitty physics wrong :P :D

Good attitude!

thanks :)

The moon is a hollow titanium alien base. Aliens don't use Steem yet.

fantastic information as always bro.. thank you for solving this myth. :) i too wondered, that how can we see a hair from a kilometer away, u really need to have a superman powers to see it.. ;)

Cool series, I like your channel! That deserves an upvote!

good post follow me @steemvotes

That was eye👁️👀 opening experience.. Pun intended 😊😇😎

A very good post and certainly very useful @timsaid

Great Informative Article

I liked this journey.

i lik this articl, hop one day be in china :)

Thanks for explaining that,I always believed you could see the Great Wall of china from space. But I didnt understand how are eyes work,we just take them for granted.

That would be a very strong "false"

long live CHINA and his GREAT WALL

A 20 feet wide structure can't be seen from 384,400 km. This is common sense!

Nobody has ever claimed that... the saying is, it can be seen from space; which it can :-)


Thought-provoking. This is true about eye acuity. This is part of the problem with people who wear glasses. At least, it is with me. I have astigmatism, so I do see well the further away something is without my glasses. So, certainly this must be along the same lines. But, would the human eye be able to see things on earth from that distance with some sort of corrective lens in space? Interesting.

Next You are going to tell me that Santa is not real?? Lol
Just joking. This scientific explanations are always super cool to know and add to Your general knowledge 😄

Great post .
upvote and follow you.

Yes, that's just a myth, whatever sounds good. You made the explanation very well. There are many credulous people who do not have enough knowledge. So learning, physics and mathematics as well as human sciences are important.

Wow this information was great I learned a lot from it Thanks

i am dreaming of visiting China now and see the great wall and then visit the moon and see the wall from there. lol. Nice post. thanks @timsaid

Sounds Interesting , Upvoted and Resteemed
Follow me @loobz Cheers!

Then our teachers during our early days of school are lying to us somehow :)

You always have the wow factor everytime I view and read your post.

Wow I really thought you can see it from there ..... the bubble plops hahahaha

@timsaid, You have spirit of true steemian... Just followed you and trying to learn from your posts.

this is a nice way to analysis this question thanks for sharing it and keep on posting ;)

Congratulations @timsaid!
Your post was mentioned in my hit parade in the following categories:

  • Upvotes - Ranked 6 with 590 upvotes
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Really interesring post :0) Lots of great info about the eyes. Often we see the moon very bright. This made me think a
Thx for sharing. Upvoted resteemed

Hope i can visit this amazing place sometime :)

The same way you can't see sh*t on the surface of the moon from Earth with a naked eye! And moon doesn't have an atmosphere.
You didn't need that much research and effort but that's ok :)

HolySmoke! Just found your channel... Very thorough presentations... Following you! i'll have to check out the Whole series now !

Very cool. Thanks for the post and series!
Upvoted, resteemed and Following! :)

Hi timsaid,

some things are so unbelievable ...

They even say people have never actually been to the Moon! Maybe a possible topic?

i will see the china wall one day. seeing the great wall of china from the moon is not possible. if so then, i can see the statue of liberty from the moon.

We could settle this issue once and for all if we had just one good HD photo of the earth taken from the moon.


Will wok hard and keep powering up..then next year I cna afford to travel to China..thanks for sharing. I mentioned you on my latest post .

Feel free to check out my latest post on : Why Steemit will disrupt social media and gain market share