Distortions of the Rising or Setting Sun and Moon

Sun rise and strong distortions above atmospheric inversation layer.
Photo: © Harald Wochner

At low elevations the sun, or even more seldom, the moon often show up strange distortions. Even planets like Jupiter or Venus sometimes are distorted in shape of a line when they rise or set. The reason for this is nothing more than a mirage caused by two or more layers of air of different density which kind of �bend� the ray of light coming from the sun at the dividing line between these two layers of air.

There are two different kinds of these mirages: