Fact Check: Newspaper's 'Photo Of Heaven' Was NOT Taken By Hubble Telescope In 1993 -- It's A Fake Image

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Newspaper's 'Photo Of Heaven' Was NOT Taken By Hubble Telescope In 1993 -- It's A Fake Image Not From NASA

Did NASA's Hubble Telescope take the Weekly World News' "Photo of Heaven" as part of hundreds of photos beamed back from space to the Goddard Space Flight Center in December 1993? No, that's not true: NASA told Lead Stories that it is "not a real Hubble image," but artwork. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, has provided stunning images of distant galaxies, nebulae and other celestial objects.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by the Weekly World News on September 10, 2009, under the title "HEAVEN PHOTOGRAPHED BY HUBBLE TELESCOPE." It began:

WASHINGTON, DC - Despite new repairs to the Hubble Telescope, NASA refuses to release old photos or take new ones of Heaven!

In 1994, a researcher was smuggled one top-secret photo the Hubble Space Telescope had taken of what is presumed to be Heaven. Weekly World News was the first to print the image and report on Dr. Masson's findings, but despite the media coverage, NASA refused to acknowledge the existence of the photo.

Now that the Hubble has been repaired and NASA is officially releasing some of it's new findings, the Weekly World News editorial team believes it is NASA's responsibility to further investigate this space anomaly!

This is what the article looked like on the Weekly World News website at the time of writing:


(Source: Weekly World News website screenshot taken on Wed Feb 7 16:56:59 2024 UTC)


The "Photo of Heaven" image first appeared in the February 8, 1994, edition of the Weekly World News (archived here), when the sensationalist and often satirical tabloid was still published in newspaper form. The original article opened with:

WASHINGTON -- Just days after space shuttle astronauts repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in mid December, the giant lens focused on a star cluster at the edge of the universe - and photographed heaven!

That's the word from author and researcher Marcia Masson, who quoted highly placed NASA insiders as having said that the telescope beamed hundreds of photos back to the command center at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., on December 26.

The pictures clearly show a vast white city floating eerily in the blackness of space.

The newspaper tabloid story appears below:


(Source: Weekly World News screenshot taken on Wed Feb 7 18:35:32 2024 UTC)

Social media

A reworked version of the original "photo of heaven" claim also appeared in a post and video (archived here) on Instagram on February 6, 2024, under the video headline "NASA found heaven." The post's caption said:

Real or fake⁉️- NASA found heaven using Hubble telescope😨👀

This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:


(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Feb 7 19:34:58 2024 UTC)


Claire Andreoli, a public affairs officer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, responded to the Weekly World News "photo of heaven" claim in a February 7, 2024, email to Lead Stories. She said:

The image you're referencing is artwork and is not a real Hubble image. NASA has extensive image and video databases. Any official NASA news or imagery will be shared via an official agency communications channel.

The space agency said its primary imagery database is available here.

Google search

A Google News search (archived here), using the words "Hubble Telescope photo of heaven," found no stories backing the claim in the Weekly World News article or showing the same image featured in it.

Read more

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims involving NASA can be found here.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion