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11 Things That Have Never Been Caught on Camera

A close-up of the sun, the passage of time, a reclusive artist: Check out the missing photos you didn't realize you wanted to see.

artist's rendering of the Parker Solar ProbeSteve Gribben/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The sun—from closer than 15 million miles

On November 8, 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe snapped a photograph of our primary star from 15 million miles away. But that’s the closest any camera has gotten to the sun, yet. Check out 14 more of the most baffling mysteries about the universe.

Three women sit and watch the sun set Michael Probst/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The sun in real time

The sun is much closer than any of the other stars we see in the night sky. Even so, it takes, on average, eight minutes and 20 seconds for sunlight to travel from the sun to the Earth. That means that if the sun were to suddenly, say, go out, it would take at least eight minutes for us to notice that it was missing.

Perseid meteor crosses the skyShutterstock

A star in real time

Light travels super fast. But the closest star to Earth (other than the sun), Alpha Centauri, is so far away that it takes four years for its light to reach our eyes (and camera lenses). That means a photo of Alpha Centauri taken today is actually a photo of Alpha Centauri from four years ago. The time difference is even longer for all the stars that are further from Alpha Centauri. Check out these 24 astronomy facts they probably didn’t teach you in school.

Soviet cosmonaut Valentina TereshkovaSovfoto/Universal Images Group/REX/Shutterstock

A woman on the moon

Twelve astronauts have walked on the moon: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Eugene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt. Not a woman among them. And despite the fact that women have been visiting space since 1963 (when Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova made her “maiden” voyage), no woman has ever even visited the moon either. So while it’s entirely feasible to take a photo of a woman on the moon, it hasn’t happened yet.

Approximate image of an hourglass with yellow sand, with blurred background. This image can be used as a texture for advertisements that use the time theme. photo taken in Soledade, Paraíba, Brazil.felipequeiroz/Shutterstock

Gravity

Gravity is the force that draws objects toward the center of the Earth, or at least that’s how our human minds have come to understand it. But while we are aware of gravity, and can easily take a photograph of its consequences, we can’t actually prove that gravity exists. As Forbes puts it, “There is no way to absolutely rule out the idea that gravity is caused by invisible, insubstantial pixies.” And there’s certainly no way to take a photograph of those pixies, or whatever force is at work in this thing we call “gravity.” Instead, take a look at these rarely seen photos of significant historical moments.

Magnet attracting paper clips on grey backgroundNew Africa/Shutterstock

Magnetism

“Magnetism” has the capacity to defy gravity. For example, if you drop a paper clip, it can defy gravity if you hold a magnet above it. Just as we can’t take a photo of what makes gravity happen, we also can’t take a photo of what makes magnetism happen. However, we may be getting closer to capturing a photographic image of magnetism at work.

soul leaving the bodyHistoria/REX/Shutterstock

The moment of death

You can take a photo after death, and you can take a photo before death—see examples of this on the photography blog Feature Shoot—but it’s impossible to capture the precise moment when death occurs.

Thought bubble drawn with chalk on a blackboardimageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Thoughts

“When the human soul produces a thought, it sends vibrations through the brain, the phosphorus it contains starts radiating, and the rays are projected out,” wrote Louis Darget at the turn of the 20th century. Darget was convinced he could find a way to photograph thoughts and set about doing so with a contraption consisting of a photographic plate attached to a headband. He wasn’t successful—and no one has ever been able to capture thoughts on film. Yet. In the meantime, here are 100 fun and interesting facts about practically everything.

Closeup, a woman's brown eyeOleksiy Maksymenko/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Objective reality

See that apple? It might look red to you. But it might not look red to your friend who has red-green color blindness and can’t distinguish red from green. If you could ask an octopus what color the apple is, it would reply “blue”: The mollusk can’t see red at all. This raises the question: What color is the apple? A photograph of the apple only complicates matters further because the light used to take the photo and the processing of the photo will impact the photographic image. So while photographs are an acceptable way to record reality, they really can’t record objective reality, or at least not one that everyone can agree upon.

Time lapse view of bus passing Houses of ParliamentMint Images/REX/Shutterstock

The passage of time

We can easily see the first three dimensions—height, width, and depth—and have no trouble photographing them. That’s not true with of the fourth dimension: time. Photographers have attempted to depict a representation of the passage of time through before-and-after photos and even time-lapse technology. But the passage of time, itself, cannot be photographed, so far.

Brexit inspired mural by anonymous British street artist BanksyNEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Banksy making art

Banksy is one of the most famous artists of all time, and certainly the most famous living artist. But since no one knows who Banksy is, no one has ever managed to capture Banksy on film, at least not while producing his or her iconic pieces. On the other hand, though, here are some amazing things that were captured on camera for the first time.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.