Mock Mirage of Setting Sun

April 19, 2023

Mock Mirage

Photographer: Emanuele Nifosì  
Summary Author: Emanuele Nifosì; Jim Foster

These two photos, taken in rapid succession, represent a mock mirage at sunset as observed off the southern tip of Sicily, Italy, on December 22, 2022. They were taken at approximately 17:55 local time. A few hours earlier the air was clear and clean, so I had decided to go to the sea in hopes of viewing the green flash phenomenon. However, as the Sun approached the horizon it plunged into a marine layer and quickly disappeared. To my surprise, after a minute or two, inexplicably it reappeared, leading to the remarkable sequence shown above.

With this type of mock mirage (M-Mir), the distorted setting Sun looks as if it's cut into horizontal slices. This is as sure sign that temperature inversions, resulting in unusual path rays of sunlight, are affecting what we see. It's hard to believe our own eyes!

Photo details: Nikon D700 camera; Skywatcher ED 50; Baader Morpheus 9 mm, ISO 1600; exp. 1/100 second exposure.

Southern tip of Sicily, Italy Coordinates: 36.773118, 14.626031

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Oddly Shaped Suns at Sunset