As children, I would bet that each and every single one of you have at least one memory of laying out under the blue sky on a blanket, looking for faces among the clouds (or in the case of over-grown kids, finding cheetos shaped like Jesus on the cross, or virgin Mary chilling out on a piece of toast). There is a word for such tendencies — seeing faces, shapes and the silhouettes of other familiar patterns in disorganization — called “pareidolia."
As we previously wrote, The word itself is derived from the Greek words ‘para,’ (meaning something faulty) and eidōlon (meaning image, form, or shape) and is a form of Apophenia, which means “seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.”
The brain is notoriously complex, so we aren't really sure why the brain looks for these patterns, but Carl Sagan once suggested that the trait was picked up to help humans distinguish friend from foe; something that was incredibly important back in our hunting days. Nowadays, it might not have an apparent purpose, but it's still a lot of fun to look at deep-space images and see incredibly distinct, familiar patterns.
Here, we've compiled some of the most interesting examples in space.
If we didn't mention it, make sure to mention your favorite one in the comments: