Mirages in deserts are caused by

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mirages in deserts are caused by

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What is a mirage? - #aumsum

To understand how a mirage forms, one must first understand how light travels through air. If a steady temperature gradient exists, however, light will follow a curved path toward the cooler air. The standard freshman physics explanation for this phenomenon is that cold air has a.

What Causes A Mirage?

The optical phenomenon called mirage occurs naturally, and it is as a result of the bending of light rays to create a displaced image of either distant objects or the sky. A mirage can be caught on camera since it is a real optical phenomenon. The inferior mirage commonly occurs in the desert, and it appears as a water body in a distance. The mirage is termed as inferior since it lies under the real object. The object, in this case, is the blue sky or another distant object in the same direction. The mirage leads the observer into seeing a bright and bluish area on land in the distance. The light rays that originate from a distant object travel through almost the same air layers and they are also bent over nearly the same amount.

Imagine you're in the desert. You're lost. You've been walking for hours. You've run out of water. On the horizon, you see a giant, shimmering puddle of water. You're saved!

Like Fata Morganas, desert mirages occur because light bends to move through warmer, less dense air. In the desert, refraction-caused illusions are known as inferior mirages (as opposed to Fata Morganas, which are superior mirages). This is why inferior desert mirages usually show.
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Please note: we are not currently updating this site with new content, but please continue to explore our resources. Under a baking sun, a weary traveller trudges across a seemingly never-ending expanse of desert. Looking up, he suddenly spots something in the distance: a sparkling lake. He rubs his eyes. Picking up the pace in glee he strides ahead… only for the water to melt into thin air.

Mirage , in optics , the deceptive appearance of a distant object or objects caused by the bending of light rays refraction in layers of air of varying density. Under certain conditions, such as over a stretch of pavement or desert air heated by intense sunshine, the air rapidly cools with elevation and therefore increases in density and refractive power. Sunlight reflected downward from the upper portion of an object—for example, the top of a camel in the desert—will be directed through the cool air in the normal way. A direct image of the camel is seen also because some of the reflected rays enter the eye in a straight line without being refracted. The double image seems to be that of the camel and its upside-down reflection in water. When the sky is the object of the mirage, the land is mistaken for a lake or sheet of water. Sometimes, as over a body of water, a cool, dense layer of air underlies a heated layer.


  1. Jürgen K. says:

    A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays bend to produce a For exhausted travelers in the desert, an inferior mirage may appear to be a lake of water in the distance. The mirage causes the observer to see a bright and bluish patch on the ground in the distance which is also called oasis.

  2. Palma R. says:

    Physics Q & A - The formation of a mirage

  3. Parsumopa says:

    What causes a mirage? - Scientific American

  4. Josephe M. says:

    In this Section

  5. Slainie M. says:

    To understand how a mirage forms, one must first understand how light travels through air.

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