A Fata Morgana — Superior Mirage Optical Illusion

Today I present a bonus blog article on an optical illusion Ursula and I witnessed yesterday morning.

Back in my other life as an air traffic controller working in various Airport Traffic Control Towers (ATCT) over the better part of a 34-year career, I would occasionally be treated to a Fata Morgana. These superior mirage atmospheric optical phenomena most often revealed themselves in the cold months of winter right after sunrise, and usually lasted less than an hour or so on the rare occasions when they did appear.

Yesterday we were presented with an outstanding example of a Fata Morgana right from our own backyard here in El Paso. Looking to the west we have a great view of the West Portillo Mountains, including Mount Riley and Cox Peak, both pictured below. These mountains were the subject of yesterday’s marvelous Fata Morgana.

So, without further adieu, I present a magnificent example of a Fata Morgana. The first picture below is of Cox Peak (left) and Mount Riley as they normally appear. The two pictures beneath that were taken eight minutes apart approximately an hour and a half before the ‘normal’ photo was taken.

Cox Peak (left); Mount Riley (right) at 10:14 a.m.

Fata Morgana image taken at 8:39 a.m.

Fata Morgana image taken at 8:47 a.m.




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