Mind-bending optical illusion shows massive tanker floating in the sky – but there's an explanation | The Sun

AN INCREDIBLE video of a giant ship levitating over houses in Cornwall has been explained as an optical illusion, with a surprisingly simple answer.

The mind-bending photo has been identified as an example of a fata morgana, an optical illusion caused by warm air meeting cold water.

The unusual sight is also known as a superior mirage.

Its name comes from the witch Morgan La Fay in the legend of King Arthur, who was said to create illusions over water to trick people.

The mythical connections don't stop there, as a fata morgana is widely thought to be the origin of the legend of the Flying Dutchman, a ghost ship that was said to be able to fly.

In modern times, such illusions are common in the Arctic, although rare in the UK.

Here they are most likely to be seen in winter when the atmospheric conditions are right.

David Braine, a BBC meteorologist, explained the illusion saying: "Superior mirages occur because of the weather condition known as a temperature inversion, where cold air lies close to the sea with warmer air above it."


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"Since cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of someone standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears."

The effect is to make the sea and the sky look the same colour, giving the impression that ships are floating.

Amazing footage of the mirage was captured in Perranporth, Cornwall by Lizzi Larbalestier.

Lizzie, the co-founder of a marine conservation group called Ghostnetbusters, said: "I spotted it off Perranporth on Thursday around 10.45am."

"The ship has been around a few days now, sitting on the horizon but as I came home from walking Goose, my dog, I did a double take as it seemed to be flying."

"The optical illusion stayed for at least half an hour … and like people do with most optical illusions or magic tricks I was trying to track what it was or how it worked."

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A great lover of the ocean, she continued to say that she had never seen such an illusion, despite spending her whole life around the sea.

"I love that every day the ocean can surprise us with weird illusions", she concluded.

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