NASA Shares Incredible Photo Of ‘Upside-Down City’ Beneath Clouds

by : Lucy Connolly on : 24 Jun 2020 14:14
NASA Shares Incredible Photo Of 'Upside-Down City' Beneath CloudsMark Hersch/NASA

Upside down cities are a thing of fiction, right? Expected to be found in science-fiction movies or TV shows, sure, but never in real life.

At least, that was the case until today, June 24, when NASA unveiled its latest Astronomy Picture of the Day. The picture in question appears to show an upside-down city just chilling beneath the clouds, and it’s undoubtedly incredible.


With no editing involved, the picture clearly shows the city of Chicago – just from a slightly different angle – captured from an aeroplane by photographer Mark Hersch.

Chicago SkylinePixabay

NASA shared the image on its Astronomy Picture of the Day site, with scientists Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnel explaining the strange phenomenon in significant detail.

The page showcases a different image each day, with a professional astronomer providing an explanation for whatever phenomenon or discovery is pictured each time.


In their explanation for the upside-down city of Chicago, Nemiroff and Bonnel described the picture as ‘fascinating’ and ‘puzzling’ yet ‘beautiful’, adding that it was taken from an aeroplane on approach to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 2014.

nasa upside down picture of chicagoMark Hersch/NASA

The scientists wrote:

How could that city be upside-down? The city, Chicago, was actually perfectly right-side up. The long shadows it projected onto nearby Lake Michigan near sunset, however, when seen in reflection, made the buildings appear inverted.

The Sun can be seen both above and below the cloud deck, with the latter reflected in the calm lake. As a bonus, if you look really closely – and this is quite a challenge – you can find another airplane in the image, likely also on approach to the same airport.

Chicago's O'Hare International AirportWikimedia

Well, there you have it. Maybe it wasn’t really an upside-down version of Chicago, but it certainly looks like it.

I don’t think I’ll ever wrap my head around science.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Science, Astronomy, Chicago, NASA, Now


  1. NASA

    Astronomy Picture of the Day