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The 10 Most Amazing Things the Sky Can Do (pics)

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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 09:34 AM
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The 10 Most Amazing Things the Sky Can Do (pics)

"Don't believe the cartoons - mirages don't happen solely in the desert. Light bends anytime it passes through air, but when the air temperature caries dramatically over a short distance, causing it to have great fluctuations in density, it can bend light so much that a mirage occurs. This image is called a superior image because it makes the boat look taller than it actually is. And superior mirages always include a portion of the picture that's inverted, as you can see here." (photo by Tim Herd)

"The refraction of sunlight usually makes the sun appear flatter or more oval on the horizon during sunsets. This sunset over the Pacific Ocean, photographed by the European Southern Observatory in Chile, is a more pronounced version of that visual effect. Refraction severely flattens the top of the sun, but its light is brighter because of a shorter trip through the atmosphere. The double sun seen below is called an inferior mirage. This is the most common type of mirrage, the one we see all the time on highways on hot days." (photo by Luc Arnold)

More at link...
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ixion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 09:39 AM
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1. very cool... thanks for posting
awesome nature pics! :hi:
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kanrok Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:00 AM
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2. Cool stuff indeed
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:04 AM
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3. That's cool! I've never heard of that effect that it's in the first photo you show.
Pretty weird!
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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 10:32 AM
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4. Great discussion of really cool mirages here:
The Marfa Lights: A Real American Mystery

Skeptoid #38
April 11, 2007
Podcast transcript | Listen

Tonight we're going to zip up our windbreakers and camp out in our folding chairs, drinking coffee from a thermos, until the ghostly Marfa Lights make their appearance, hovering and wavering out in the field before us.

In 1957, a magazine article first reported the mysterious phenomenon of hovering balls of light bouncing around the night near Marfa, Texas. About ten miles east of Marfa, in an area called Mitchell Flat, the odd lights appear perhaps a couple dozen times per year. They're about the size of basketballs and appear to float about shoulder high. Sometimes several appear at once, wavering about, sometimes even merging together or moving about in a group, splitting apart, and behaving in a most remarkable fashion. They only appear at night, at any time of year and in any weather, and are usually white or yellow or orange. Sometimes red or blue are reported, but most are white.

One unique characteristic of the Marfa Lights is that they are actually there and can actually be observed; their existence is definitely not just a story. The city of Marfa has even erected a viewing platform, where hopeful light spotters can be found every night. You can actually go there, and if you're lucky or patient enough, you will actually see the Marfa Lights.


May I have the envelope, please? The winner is ... the car headlights combined with some fascinating atmospheric phenomena. In 2004, The University of Texas sent the Society of Physics Students, a highly respected professional association, to investigate the Marfa Lights. Their official report, available at, found conclusively that when the lights appeared, they were precisely correlated with car headlights on Highway 67. The lights were completely predictable and the phenomenon was fully repeatable, based on cars on the highway. Quite a few photographs have been taken of the lights at night, which when superimposed upon a photograph from the same camera location during the day, show Highway 67 in the extreme distance, precisely in the same place as the light in the night photograph. The strange movement of the lights is attributed to the magnifying or shimmering effect caused by a so-called Fata Morgana mirage, a type of superior mirage, in comparison to the more common inferior mirage. Superior mirages, where objects appear higher than their actual position, can make distant objects even those below the horizon appear to hover in the air. Inferior mirages, where objects appear below their actual position, can make objects up in the air, such as a patch of sky, appear below the horizon, like the proverbial lake in the desert. Anytime the temperature gradients are suitable, the Marfa Lights should appear and behave predictably. Other independent investigations have also found the same correlation with cars on nearby Highway 90.

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ClayZ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-09-08 01:29 AM
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5. Wow! Thanks!
K and R
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-09-08 07:28 PM
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6. Very cool! I saw one of those 'circumhorizontal arcs' (the bowless rainbow) a few years ago ...
it was so faint I had a hard time convincing myself it was real, and not an artifact of extremely thick glasses ... which tend to put rainbows in all kinds of places. :(
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