Eclipsed "Omega" Sunrise


A partially eclipsed sun rising over the warm ocean at Kourou , French Guiana 22nd September 2006 presaged an annular eclipse. Michael Gill journeyed from Birmingham, England to see the event and caught this unusual eclipsed "Omega" sunrise and stunning proof that the lower image of the mirage really is inverted. Larger image. Image ©2006 Michael Gill

Michael was on a coastal bluff only a few metres above sea level. Residual warmth of the sea heated a layer of air immediately above it to produce the inferior mirage or 'Omega' sunrise.

The mirage mirror plane is close to the apparent horizon and the sunrise if unaffected by any atmospheric effects would have appeared as in the left hand figure of the diagram. Below the mirror plane, the mirage produced a second inverted solar image. The combined images produce the striking hour-glass silhouette on the sun. Sunspots sometimes indicate to us that slices of a miraged sunset are inverted but this 'doubled eclipse' is a more striking proof.

As the sun rose it took on the fully developed 'Omega' or 'Etruscan vase' shape.