Science

ANOTHER boat is spotted ‘floating in mid-air’ off Britain in bizarre optical illusion

ANOTHER boat is spotted ‘floating in mid-air’ off Britain as bizarre optical illusion makes it appear as if cruise ship is hovering above the water

  • Anthem of the Seas cruise ship was spotted ‘hovering’ off coast of Bournemouth 
  • Ryan Rushforth spotted the 168,000-tonne Royal Caribbean liner  
  • He said: ‘Was really, really amazing to see it in person, it looked incredible’ 


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Another boat has been spotted ‘floating in mid-air’ off the coast of Britain in a bizarre optical illusion which makes it appear as if the cruise ship is hovering above the water. 

The unusual sight has been seen across the UK, with sightings in Cornwall, Devon and Aberdeenshire in just a matter of days.

The latest viewing was spotted by Ryan Rushforth off the coast of Bournemouth, Dorset, yesterday evening. 

The latest viewing was spotted by Ryan Rushforth off the coast of Bournemouth, Dorset, yesterday evening

The latest viewing was spotted by Ryan Rushforth off the coast of Bournemouth, Dorset, yesterday evening

The Anthem of the Seas cruise ship, an 168,000-tonne Royal Caribbean liner, looked like it was hovering above the water. 

The 347-metre ship has a capacity of 4,180 and was spotted near Bournemouth Pier. 

Mr Rushforth said:  ‘Is it me or is this boat floating?

The Anthem of the Seas cruise ship, an 168,000-tonne Royal Caribbean liner, looked like it was hovering above the water

The Anthem of the Seas cruise ship, an 168,000-tonne Royal Caribbean liner, looked like it was hovering above the water

The Anthem of the Seas cruise ship, an 168,000-tonne Royal Caribbean liner, looked like it was hovering above the water

‘Was really, really amazing to see it in person, it looked incredible I must say.’

The floating phenomenon is known as Fata Morgana which is created when the sun heats up the atmosphere above either the land or the sea.

The warmer air sits above cold air which then causes the light from the ship to bend. 

While sightings of superior mirages are often seen in the Arctic, they are uncommon in the UK, The Guardian reports.

David Braine, BBC meteorologist explained that the phenomenon is caused conditions in the atmosphere which bend light. 

‘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,’ he said.

‘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.’

While there have been many examples of people spotting objects floating above the water, Mr Morris noted people have also witnessed items below the horizon which have then become visible due to the optical illusion.  

What is a Fata Morgana? 

A Fata Morgana is a type of mirage that distort distance objects, and can be can be seen on land or sea.

It’s caused when the sun heats up the atmosphere above the land or oceans, which creates a gradient of temperatures.

The air close to the surface is relatively cool and above that are layers of warmer air.

When light hits a boundary between two layers of the atmosphere that are different temperatures – and as a result different densities – it bends and travels at a different angle.

Our brain assumes that light travels in a straight paths, so when it bends, we think the object is where it would be if the light’s path runs straight.


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