I recently saw this image, but somebody told me that it is fake, possibly photoshopped. The moon and the sun appear to be on the same perpendicular from the horizon. Is there any way to tell if this shot was actually captured?
Image of the sun near the horizon with the moon above it

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    $\begingroup$ Could be a double exposure taken roughly 12 hrs apart, timed to when the Sun and Moon are each framed by the two trees, but it's just speculation. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Mar 12, 2017 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ Compare 500px.com/photo/191848311/… (by Bess Hamiti) and shutterstock.com/image-photo/… (by Bess Hamiti). It rather suggests that the creator of this image is no stranger to "shopping". $\endgroup$
    – spender
    Mar 13, 2017 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ This would only be possible if the Moon were very far behind the Sun. And several times larger than it. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 18:12

4 Answers 4


No, it's not real. Given that the moon appears to be nearly full, it would be near to the horizon opposite the sun, which is clearly not the case. Also the framing of the sun and moon between the trees means that the sun and moon are on the same side of the trees, which is not possible when the moon is full.

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    $\begingroup$ It could, however, be a double exposure like @Anthony said above. So both the sun and the moon could have been in those positions, just 12 or so hours apart. $\endgroup$
    – Cullub
    Mar 12, 2017 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ I don't get your argument about 'the same side of the trees'. If taken near equator, this is absolutely possible. $\endgroup$
    – Orace
    Mar 13, 2017 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Orace For the moon to be full it has to be opposite the sun. If the sun and moon are in line, or nearly so, as in the picture, then the moon would be new as the sun is behind it. So it isn't possible for this picture to be real. $\endgroup$
    – vascowhite
    Mar 13, 2017 at 13:30

No, neither is true. The moon itself does not emit light at optical wavelengths. It only reflects the sunlight, although in rare cases you can see it reflecting light from our earth (in which case the light is also from the sun). The side being illuminated should face the sun. So, if you see the sun aligned with the moon as in the photo, it must be faked. But you need the moon and the sun to be in the same line of sight in this case, e.g. a solar/moon eclipse.

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    $\begingroup$ Is it possible that the camera guy just has a really good flash? $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 0:06
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    $\begingroup$ @JanDvorak Nice theory. Except the trees are dark ;) $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 7:20
  • $\begingroup$ I should also comment, indeed, to make such a picture, you probably need two shots: one for the sun and one for moon and then you need Ps to combine those two. $\endgroup$
    – CyTex
    Mar 13, 2017 at 7:23
  • $\begingroup$ @GreenAsJade They are also not on fire. Mandatory xkcd reference. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ @GreenAsJade that's because the the flash is set to a four-second delay like you would need while photographing the moon. The light from the trees is long gone. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 11:41

The position of the moon and the sun in this picture are possible.

It's more feasible in between the tropics and depends on the direction of the moon orbit inclination.

The issue in this picture is the homogeneous brightness of the moon.

It's look like a full moon, which happen when the observer (here we will talk about the earth) is between the moon and sun, which is not the case in this picture.

So what the moon should look like ? In this case the visible part of the moon will be lighted by the sun in a small crescent. And the rest of the visible part of the moon will be lighted by an almost full earth. That it, a earthlight. The brightness contrast is gigantic but you can see it by your eyes.

Here a picture of it:


And another one with tree to have a brightness reference:

enter image description here

We can't see such a contrast on the original image. And the picture doesn't look like a HDR image.

So yes. This is a photomontage.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting images. Without having any measurements or reference photos -- my gut feeling is that the moon lit by earth light like in your pictures would be much darker in a picture like the OP's, which has the sun in it. Your second picture, by contrast, has only some afterglow after sunset, which is much darker, so that the moon appears relatively brighter. And still it is fairly pale on your photo and fairly brilliant on the OP's. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterA.Schneider for the second image we doesn't know how far the sun is still behind the horizon (it's a sunrise picture), the sky color is not a good indicator since the camera sensibility must be huge. The presence of stars and the darkness of the tree show how dark is the night here. About OP picture: the sun and earth-lighted moon at the same time at least need an HDR process. $\endgroup$
    – Orace
    Mar 13, 2017 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ What about this picture?pic98.ir/upload/0ie2_3beceaf75d35232a0813530704380e45.jpg $\endgroup$
    – Ali Ph
    Mar 13, 2017 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ @AliPh same thing. An extremely brilliant small moon crescent should have been visible. $\endgroup$
    – Orace
    Mar 13, 2017 at 16:11

Yes, these celestial bodies in certain positions can produce this alignment, but the brightness of the moon is the dead give away, besides the fact that the sun couldn't possibly illuminate the side of the moon facing earth from 93 million miles behind it. At least not with this brightness.


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