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Desert early morning Mirage, 



    
        

            hbastro

Desert early morning Mirage

Desert early morning Mirage, 



    
        

            hbastro

Desert early morning Mirage

Description

Our atmosphere defines our ability to observe and study the heavens using earthbound instruments. The mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon where light is bent to produce distorted or multiple images of an object. The Mirage affors an opportunity to examine a large crossection of atmosphere. The dN/dT of air that creates the mirage phenomenon also limits our ability to resolve faint fuzzes, makes the green flash, looming mountains-islands, and contributes to twinkling stars.

In the case of this image taken just after sunrise outside Mojave CA; heavier cold air has settled to the ground with warmer air above creating an inversion layer. Reflection occurs at the interface between the higher index of refraction cold air near the ground and the lower refractive index warm air above.

My car has a thermometer that registered the difference as I traveled though this phenomenon with nearly a 20degreeF temperature change. I have seen this many times but rarely this pronounced. In this image the boundary is clearly visible as a turbulent interface in the upper image. The sun was high enough when this image was taken that the ground had started to warm and the air move with a slight breeze. This motion is evident in the turbulent appearance of the mirage layer…

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Desert early morning Mirage, 



    
        

            hbastro