Image of eclipse behind Canada's CN Tower is AI-generated

  • Published on April 9, 2024 at 20:25
  • Updated on April 26, 2024 at 17:05
  • 6 min read
  • By Gwen ROLEY, AFP Canada
After the total solar eclipse visible over much of North America, social media users spread a picture alongside claims it showed the astronomical event over Toronto's skyline. This is false; the image was originally posted on April Fool's Day -- several days before the eclipse -- and the creator said it was generated using artificial intelligence.

"The #Eclipse2024 from Canada," claims an April 8, 2024 Facebook post sharing the photo. The picture appears to depict the total eclipse of the Sun from Canada's largest city, looming behind the CN Tower.

Multiple versions of the image spread across Facebook -- including a post from the Embassy of Canada in Vietnam -- and were shared on Instagram, X, YouTube, Reddit and Threads. The claim also appeared in Spanish.

Screenshot of a Facebook post, taken April 9, 2024
Screenshot of an Instagram post, taken April 9, 2024

People across North America gathered to view the April 8 solar eclipse, with Toronto seeing a moment of 99 percent coverage of the Sun by the Moon, according to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (archived here).

However, one of the posts claiming to show the skyscraper and the cosmic event was shared at 12:27 pm (1627 GMT) -- while the height of coverage in Toronto was almost three hours later at around 3:19 pm (1919 GMT, archived here and here).

A reverse-image search reveals the photo was originally posted by the account "Tayrontoo" on April 1 with a caption clarifying it was an April Fool's Day joke (archived here). Taylor Holm, the creator behind the account, confirmed to AFP that the image was not a photo of the eclipse on April 8.

"It clearly says on my Instagram that it's [an] April's fool AI image which I made well over a week before any actual solar eclipse," Holm said in an April 9 email.

Some accounts sharing the image credit Holm, without clarifying the original picture appeared days before before the eclipse.

Users responding to Holm's photo after the eclipse also pointed out the image did not seem possible, since the weather was overcast in Toronto on April 8 during the eclipse.

Screenshot of comments on an Instagram post, taken April 9, 2024

According to local media reports, the last time a total solar eclipse was visible over Toronto was in 1925. An annular solar eclipse passed over Canada in 2021 and there are images from news coverage of that event showing the Moon blocking a portion of the Sun behind the CN Tower.

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 10: The sun rises behind the skyline during an annular eclipse on June 10, 2021 in Toronto, Canada. Across parts of Canada, viewers witnessed the rare sighting of a so-called "ring of fire" solar eclipse - a thin outer ring of the sun's disk that is not completely covered by the smaller dark disk of the moon. Mark Blinch/Getty Images/AFP (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / MARK BLINCH)

Read more of AFP's reporting on misinformation around the 2024 eclipse here.

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