One man says he was “stunned” to look out to sea from a village in Cornwall, in south-west England, to see a huge ship that appears to be hanging in the air over the water. It wasn’t his eyes that fooled him, but a rare weather phenomenon that caused the optical illusion.
BBC News meteorologist David Braine explained What David Morris captured with his camera lens was not levitation, but rather a “superior mirage” caused by conditions more typical of the cold Arctic than off the English coast.
“Superior illusions occur because of weather conditions known as temperature inversion, where cold air is near the ocean with warmer air above it,” Braine said. “Because cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of people standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears.”
PreviousAll over the world the illusion may have played a role, but the sharp images that Morris captured seem to be some of the clearest examples of a superior mirage.
Braine said that while in this case the phenomenon seemed to have the ship hovering over the water, “sometimes an object can become visible below the horizon”, throwing objects that would otherwise be invisible to someone, almost like a giant mirror.