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No. 23: Sep-Oct 1982

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Zoom Lens In The Atmosphere

June 29, 1981. South Atlantic Ocean.

At 1700 GMT, the master and third officer of the Rockhampton Star observed a vessel at a distance of 6 nautical miles. Its appearance was normal for that distance. At 12 n.m., however, it was magnified four times over what it should have been for that distance. At 16 n.m., the apparent magnification was eight. The interesting aspects of this phenomenon are:

  1. Increasing magnification with distance; and
  2. The magnified image was perfect in two dimensions and not distorted along the vertical axis as is usually the case in abnormal refraction.

(White, A.H.; "Abnormal Refraction," Marine Observer, 52:80, 1982.)

Comment. What kind of stable atmospheric lens can do this?

Reference. Phenomena like that above are termed "telescopic mirages." These are cataloged at GEM2 in Rare Halos, Mirages. For a description of this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #23, SEP-OCT 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987