The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

Mock Mirage Sunset

Some unusually cool May weather has descended on Tucson. Highs didn’t even hit 90 today. With that cool weather came some unusual atmospheric conditions leading to an interesting sunset.

Most of the action took place well before the Sun even hit the horizon. I could tell something unusual was happening from this pic.

Note the unusual activity at the bottom of the Sun. I have seen that before and that is usually what the Sun looks like when the lower limb encounters are inversion layer in our atmosphere. Usually, it gets cooler as you gain elevation. Sometimes, however, there is a cooler layer below warm air. This phenomena is called an inversion layer. I was able to watch the Sun descend through this inversion layer and when the top of the Sun got there, I was ready with my camera to hit the pics. In other words, what follows is no accident and strictly intentional.

Note the little piece of the Sun that broke off at the top. It has a greener color than the Sun. This a mock (or superior) mirage green flash caused by the Sun passing through the inversion layer. I got my first pictures of a mock mirage green flash on a cruise. It is unusual to get them in Tucson. When you get one mock mirage flash, you frequently get another.

In addition to the ones I posted here, I got at least two more mock mirage flashes but they were much weaker and you really had to blow up the pics to see them.

Finally, I will leave you with the traditional last pic of sunset with a mixture of yellow and green through the mountain peaks.


May 28, 2012 - Posted by | Astrophotography, Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Sunset | ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Sunset was a little hazy, but I noticed a temperature boundary as the Sun was setting. Note the small mock mirage (the little piece of the Sun breaking off at the top) that formed. I saw a couple of others in the process of forming, but they were small and the small ones are difficult to time your pics to get them (unlike the big ones I got a few weeks ago!) […]

    Pingback by Some Pics From An Evening on Kitt Peak « The Half-Astrophysicist Blog | June 23, 2012 | Reply

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