Here’s an interesting atmospheric phenomenon most of us probably won’t have seen before. Described as a mirage on steroids, a Fata Morgana is an optical illusion seen only in incredibly rare circumstances usually at the Polar regions. So when one decided to show up in the densely populated city of Foshan on October 7th 2015 the residents were understandably alarmed.
The image above is a several layer composite composed by Phogotraphy taken from stills obtained from the Youtube video below. The shaky camera pans from the sky to the ground and despite being aired on Chines state television is the only footage to exist of the event so far.
This optical phenomenon occurs because rays of light are bent when they pass through air layers of different temperatures in a steep thermal inversion where an atmospheric duct has formed. (A thermal inversion is an atmospheric condition where warmer air exists in a well-defined layer above a layer of significantly cooler air. This temperature inversion is the opposite of what is normally the case; air is usually warmer close to the surface, and cooler higher up.)
There have been man made efforts to project imagery onto clouds, most notably the zoopraxiscope which we covered earlier this year on Phogotraphy. This scene is reminiscent of a similar occurrence in China from 2011, although not as ominous the video is far more detailed.
We recommend you head over to the Wikipedia page on Fata Morgana to learn more about the weather phenomenon.