That certainly was no moon.
On July 31, no less than Etienne Klein, the research director of France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission tweeted what he jokingly claimed to be a photo of the star Proxima Centauri, supposedly taken by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). It appears to show a stunning red orb with what seem to be white-hot spots on its surface.
Klein praised the photo for its “level of detail,” and remarked that “a new world is revealed day after day.”
He followed-up the tweet about an hour later, letting it slip that the photo wasn’t quite what it seemed: “Well, when it’s time for the aperitif, cognitive biases seem to have a field day… Beware, then, of them. According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth,” he said.
And sure enough, a closer inspection of the photo revealed it to actually be a slice of chorizo. Not everyone got the joke, however, prompting Klein to come clean:
“In view of some comments, I feel compelled to clarify that this tweet showing an alleged snapshot of Proxima Centauri was a form of amusement. Let us learn to be wary of arguments from authority as much as of the spontaneous eloquence of certain images…” he said.
As of August 5, Klein’s original post had been retweeted over 1,500 times and liked over 11,300 times.