What’s really visible from ‘space’

What's really visible from 'space' - December 30, 2003
Nils points out this link: ...this clears up some misconceptions, but unfortunately won't bring an end to that overused and silly expression perpetuated by the media: "so big it can be seen from space" From where in space? Using what equipment?
I think you once mentioned the Palm Islands in the UAE on 2B. Usually in such a project, the developers and/or media will scream out in their ignorance and sensationalism: "it's soooo huge it can be seen from space (like only the Chinese Wall before)", and the general public is very much impressed.
But nonsense. What does this less than exact expression want to tell us, anyway? First of all, where is "in space"? On a satellite, space station, the moon? OK, let's assume an orbit around the earth, maybe 400-700 km high. Then of course many more man-made features than the Chinese Wall can be seen, even more so when you have a binocular, a tele lens or the sophisticated scanner system of an earth observation satellite (we are talking about resolutions down to the range of 10s of centimeters here!). But even with the NAKED EYE you can detect surprising details, as described in the before-mentioned article.
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