Abstract

A previously unrecognized phenomenon, which we call the mock mirage, produces inverted images of the Sun and Moon near the horizon when the observer looks downward through a thermal inversion. No ducting is involved; the rays can be concave toward the Earth throughout their length, with a radius of curvature larger than the radius of the Earth. Quite mild inversions produce surprisingly large effects, which increase with the height of the observer. Although the phenomenon has frequently been photographed, published pictures have been misinterpreted. Finally, we distinguish between features that are due to waves on inversion layers and the larger features that are due to the inversions themselves.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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