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The strange phenomenon of suspended ships in the air. UK Photo Boom – Corriere.it

For several weeks in southern England, ships appeared to be suspended in the air over the sea. It is a special visual phenomenon, a real mirage, which fills social media with images. Many wonder if it is not the composite images, in fact a physical explanation lies in the manuals of optics and in the special weather conditions that occurred in Cornwall.

Mirage is superior

According to the technologists, this is the so-called “superior mirage” because of the atmospheric conditions that determine the refraction of distant objects precisely in accordance with the eyes of the observer. It is a phenomenon that often occurs in arctic regions, and rarely in low latitudes. However, in the winter season, the chances of this type of phenomenon are more common. When a temperature reversal occurs, that is, when the upper layers of air are warmer than those below (a condition that usually favors stagnation of fog) if suitable wind conditions are also found that prevent fog from accumulating, when light passes between the two layers of temperature Different (and thus at different intensities), it undergoes total inversion. A similar phenomenon occurs in a cup full of liquid with a small spoon inside: if you look at it at a certain angle, it seems that the teaspoon is broken in two.

light reflection

In the case of Cornwall, the extremely cold air bends the light at an angle such that no observer on the coast can accurately perceive the exact distance of an object in the distance. Sometimes an object below the horizon may be visible. On the other hand, a “mirage inferior” is what happens in the deserts or on a paved road in the middle of summer, which gives the impression that you are in front of an expanse of water. The phenomenon is the opposite: a layer of cold air over a layer of warmer air touches the ground.

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March 20, 2021 (Change to March 20, 2021 | 15:44)

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Earl Warner

"Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover."

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