Mirages in Canada make cities appear in the sky

Several very spectacular upper mirages were photographed this Sunday in Calgary in Canada giving the impression that giant cities appeared in the sky.

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[EN VIDÉO] Kézako: how are mirages born?
Sometimes our eyes are deceived by strange phenomena suggesting shapes or objects that are out of place: these are mirages. During this episode of Kézako, Unisciel and the University of Lille 1 lift the veil on this phenomenon and its origins.

When we speak of mirage, we immediately think to the deserts, and yet mirages also occur in frigid regions. Far from being hallucinations, mirages are very real optical phenomena since they can be photographed. On January 10, a meteorologist of Calgary, in the Canadian province of Alberta, was able to immortalize these apparitions with spectacular shots. Calgary’s buildings appear distorted, stretched upward: this is a superior mirage.

A temperature inversion that bends the light

These imaginary buildings in the sky actually stretch up to what is called in weather report, the “inversion layer”: the upper candling, or “cold candling”, occurs when theair near the ground is much colder than that present at altitude. In the case of the Calgary mirages, the difference between these two air masses was 15 ° C that day. A phenomenon called inversion because, in a classic weather context, the air is warmer on the ground and colder at altitude. The temperature inversions occur in mountainous areas, and more commonly in polar areas, above the land, pack ice or sea. In this situation, the light rays projected by real objects (buildings, boat, etc.) follow an ascending and curved path: the initial object is then deformed, stretched, and perceived as much larger. It sometimes appears offset from the actual object, and in some cases, reversed.

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There are three categories of mirages altogether: the upper glamor of cold regions, the lower glamor of hot regions which makes an altitude object appear lower than reality, and Fata Morgana which combines several layers of inversions and gives appearances of superimposed objects.

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