Mirage of Astronomical Objects - Inferior Mirage of Astronomical Objects

Inferior Mirage of Astronomical Objects

Inferior mirage of astronomical objects is the most common mirage. Inferior mirage occurs when the surface of the Earth or the oceans produces a layer of hot air of lower density, just at the surface. There are two images, the inverted one and the erect one, in inferior mirage.They both are displaced from the geometric direction to the actual object. While the erect image is setting, the inverted image appears to be rising from the surface.

The shapes of inferior mirage sunsets and sunrises stay the same for all inferior mirage sunsets and sunrises. One well-known shape, the Etruscan vase, was named by Jules Verne. As the sunset progresses the shape of Etruscan vase slowly changes; the stem of the vase gets shorter until the real and the miraged Suns create a new shape – Greek letter omega Ω. The inferior mirage got its name because the inverted image appears below the erect one.

The most common misconception of an inferior mirage is that an inexperienced observer describes a miraged image as a reflection, while in reality it is a refraction.

Here's how Jules Verne describes an inferior mirage sunset.

All eyes were again turned towards the west. The sun seemed to sink with greater rapidity as it approached the sea ; it threw a long trail of dazzling light over the trembling surface of the water ; its disk soon changed from a shade of old gold, to fiery red, and, through their half-closed eyes, seemed to glitter with all the varying shades of a kaleidoscope. Faint, waving lines streaked the quivering trail of light cast on the surface of the water, like a spangled mass of glittering gems. Not the faintest sign of cloud, haze, or mist was visible along the whole of the horizon, which was as clearly defined as a black line traced on white paper. Motionless, and with intense excitement, they watched the fiery globe as it sank nearer and nearer the horizon,and, for an instant, hung suspended over the abyss. Then, through the refraction of the rays, its disk seemed to change till it looked like an Etruscan vase, with bulging sides, standing on the water.

On very rare occasions the mirages of astronomical objects other than the Sun and the Moon might be observed. An apparent magnitude of an astronomical object should be low enough (that is, bright enough) in order to see it as not only a real object, but also a miraged one.

Read more about this topic:  Mirage Of Astronomical Objects

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