When thousands of people start seeing city skylines floating amongst the clouds, the theories for why start to come out of the woodwork: it’s NASA planning Christ’s second coming, it’s a parallel universe peeking through, everyone has been drugged! But the less entertaining (but still pretty darn cool truth) for those who witnessed this rare sight in the Chinese cities of Jiangxi and Foshan is that it’s basically just a mirage.
Images and video that captured the phenomena, known as Fata Morgana, are grainy and imperfect, but still look like something out of a sci-fi film.
Fata Morgana occurs when a specific set of environmental conditions come together in just the right way. Essentially, when the sun heats an upper layer of air while a lower layer remains cool, a temperature gradient can form. And when light passes through the gradient, it can bend (or refract), causing objects at ground level (buildings, ships, mountains, whatever) to appear as if placed in the sky.
In this case, the boats below appeared inverted and stacked, like a city skyline.
Isn’t science cool? Sure, not as cool as science fiction, but still, pretty cool.