May 27, 2008
The photo above showing a mirage over the Mojave Desert, near Primm, Nevada, was taken on April 4, 2007. Looking at this picture, it's easy to understand how people who are lost and dehydrated might mistakenly stagger toward what they believe is a lake in the midst of a desert. In actuality, the sky and the mountain in the background are refracted by the hot desert surface. Note that the image of the dome of salt seems to be reflected on the water's surface. This "lake" suddenly evaporates as the desperately thirsty wanderer draws nearer. Such an apparition is a classic inferior mirage -- the refracted image is below the object's true position. Distant objects in this case are refracted or bent upwards by the heated surface (and layer of air just above it).