Photo shows Colorado River atop Grand Canyon

Utah, USA, April 22, 2013 – Colorado River *positioned to give an interesting optical illusion.

Photo appears to show Colorado River atop the Grand Canyon; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe

Look at the photo above again. Something is definitely amiss. We all know the Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon at the bottom of the canyon. So why does it look like the river is flowing atop the Grand Canyon?

There's a simple explanation, really.

By merely turning the photo 180 degrees, DigitalGlobe, a provider of high-resolution Earth imagery, created an optical illusion that makes the river appear to be flowing at the top of the canyon. For comparison, here's the original photo of the river in its proper place:

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Colorado River in its normal place, flowing at the bottom of the Grand Canyon; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe

The upside-down Colorado River photo by DigitalGlobe is one of 20 captivating photos gleaned from 1 billion square kilometers of imagery obtained in 2013 from five satellites orbiting Earth.

As part of the third annual Top Commercial Satellite Image of the Year contest, the photos were posted on Facebook where the public is being asked to vote for their favorites. You can "like" as many as you want before midnight December 16. The next day, the top five finalists will be posted and final voting will commence with the winning image being announced in January.

Last year, the winning photo was of the Burning Man Festival in Nevada.

We present a few of our top choices here, including another optical illusion, that of the Citadel of Aleppo in Syria, which sits atop a plateau (as seen just below) or in a hole if you turn it 180 degrees (next photo):

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Citadel of Aleppo sitting atop a plateau; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe


Aleppo reserved

Optical illusion of the Citadel of Aleppo sitting in a hole; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe


Belfast, Northern Ireland, Nov. 3, 2013 –

“Wish,” a large-scale artwork in Belfast, Northern Ireland; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe


Cuanza River, Angola, April 28, 2013 – Cambambe Dam

Cuanza River and Cambambe Dam in Angola; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe


Croatia, Feb. 16, 2013 – Galešnjak (Island of Love)

Galesnjak (Island of Love) in Croatia; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe


Versailles, France, Aug. 20, 2013 – Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles in France; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe


Madang Province, Papua New Guinea, March 22, 2013 – Manam Volcano

Manam Volcano in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe


Australia, April 22, 2013 – Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef in Australia; photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe

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