Mock-Mirage Sunset

A wonderful example of a mock-mirage sunset videoed - play it below left - by Michael Bolte at Santa Cruz, California.

It has everything. Three suns, the upper one descending, the one below it inverted and ascending and the lowest segment sinking.

The uppermost is topped by a green rim and occasional green flashes.

A temperature inversion is responsible. The lower air layer is cooled by the cold ocean current off the Californian coast while the upper air is warm from the land. The suns rays are refracted into the mirage as they travel through the resulting temperature and density gradients.

©Michael Bolte, shown with permission
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The three mirage components. The topmost one is regarded as the 'real' sun. It is refracted least but is shifted nonetheless from the sun's vacuum position.

The two segments within the inversion layer differ from mirage to mirage but retain their essence of the upper one upside-down and rising while the lower one descends.