Costa Rica Sunset and Mirage

August 26, 2011

Sunset phenomena (2)

: Ronald Jensen
Summary Author: Ronald Jensen; Jim Foster

The photo above shows an omega-shaped Sun setting off the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica, near Potrero Beach. The distorted shape of solar disk is a result of a mirage – the pronated “feet” are the inverted images of portions of the Sun right above them. Take a closer look at the horizon just beneath the Sun. The dark irregular splotches are actually small rock islands that are too far out to be seen under normal atmospheric conditions. I've taken many sunset pictures in Costa Rica, but this is the first time I've observed this phenomenon. It’s an example of an inferior mirage -- an object looks lower than its true position. Such mirages are often appear upside down and result from objects no more than a few km distant. Always be careful to protect your eyes when looking toward the Sun. Photo taken on June 22, 2011.