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Gagarin the Extra-Terrestrial? Bust of first man in space takes on strange look

Gagarin the Extra-Terrestrial? Bust of first man in space takes on strange look
He famously said “orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is.” Well sadly, a monument to Yuri Gagarin in Kaluga looks like it has taken a bit of a beating from the ugly stick.

Residents of the Russian city, famous for its cosmonaut heritage, were shocked to discover online that their well-known bas-relief of the first cosmonaut looked a little different than they remembered. 

The statue, erected in 1977 to celebrate Kaluga's 600th anniversary, depicts the face of Gagarin half-way up a 50 meter obelisk. The prominent location of the spaceman’s face means that everyone in the city has seen it multiple times, which led to shock at the recent image. 

The picture immediately aroused suspicions that photoshop had been at play, but the photographer insisted that he had not touched it and had simply taken a photo with a drone, saying perhaps the lens was to blame. 

“No, no photoshop, there was no distortion of the object’s geometry. I can assume that there was an error with the lens when shooting, and as a result, the image was distorted,” said photographer Maxim Smirnov. 

Social media comments suggested that the statue was designed to be seen from below, and the shock was a result of nobody ever seeing an angle from above – but photos from 1977 show the face looking normal from head-on. 

Some netizens wrote that Gagarin looked like a heavy drinker, while others said he looked like Hollywood movie character ET. One less kind comment suggested that Gagarin was just sad after looking at Kaluga for 43 years. 

Kaluga is home to the Museum of Cosmonautics and the birthplace of one of rocketry’s founding fathers, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

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