Are My Eyes Playing Tricks On Me? Or Is It a Mirage?

Are My Eyes Playing Tricks On Me? Or Is It a Mirage?

Raja Boudali, Journalist

       Mirage, an optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions, especially the appearance of a sheet of water in a desert or on a hot road caused by the refraction of light from the sky by heated air.


       Before going in depth on what a mirage is, you need to know the difference between a mirage and hallucinations. A hallucination is something that your mind makes up, something that you imagine, something that’s not real. One the other hand, mirages are real. A mirage occurs when the ground is hot and the air is cool. The light moves through the cool air and is refracted or bent upward creating the illusion of a sheet of water. This is because the mirage is reflecting the sky. A very fascinating fact about mirages is that they can be photographed proving furthermore that mirages are not hallucinations. There are two kinds of mirages; inferior and superior. Inferior mirages depend not on the heat of the area, but the difference in temperature between the air directly above the ground and the air above that.


       Superior mirages need slightly different conditions. For a superior mirage to happen, there needs to be a layer of warm air sitting slightly above your line of vision with a cooler layer below. The effects that superior mirages have are a little bit different. A superior mirage makes the item you’re looking at appear as if it’s floating. A while back when people didn’t know what a mirage was, sailors would assume a supernatural event was happening. For example, if they saw a “floating” ship, when in reality, it was just a mirage.


       A mirage might seem like something super rare and impossible to find with all the little needed qualities, but they’re really common believe it or not. So next time you’re in the car or in the middle of a desert -for whatever reason- keep your eyes alert and who knows? You might see a mirage!


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Hightouch Hightech, Britannica, Atlas Obscura, Farmers Almanac