Bad Astronomy

Parrrrrrrre… iiiiiiiiii… doooooooliaaaaa!

Astronomers – even skeptical ones with a sense of humor and an eye for pareidolia – can miss things. In this case, I can hardly believe I somehow dropped the pigskin on this one.

Back in April, I posted an incredibly beautiful picture of sand dunes on Mars taken by the HIRISE camera. Here’s the picture:

Wow. I mean really, wow!

The thing is, I was so drawn to the dunes that I missed something that, in retrospect, makes moi a bit of a fool. Look to the middle right; see that raised dome? Yeah? Well, look a little closer:

See it? Maybe this comparison will help vous.

It’s so obvious! And what makes it worse is as soon as I saw it I knew why it was there… all you have to do is look at this image of the Martian surface taken by the Viking 1 orbiter back in the 1970s…

It’s all clear to me now. It’s not easy being red.

Sigh. Pareidolia is certainly subjective, of course, but as a wise swine once said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.”

Tip o’ the hand puppet to BABloggee Ken Arthur for notifying me of my oversight. Tip o’ the heat shield as well to the Tampa Bay Skeptics for the Kermit pic.