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It’s an everyday sight to see aircraft flying over the horizon. It’s something one would not give a second look or even raise an eyebrow because airplanes fly, anyway.

But how would you feel seeing a gigantic ship suspended mid-air above the oceans? Would you not be wonder-struck thinking how that could ever be possible!? Such a possibility undermines human imagination. Is that a miracle that one may call the eighth wonder of the world or a natural phenomenon behind which there’s an established scientific explanation?

The BBC in March this year reported an incident where a resident of Cornwall in England, who was taking a stroll along the southwestern coast, was astonished to see right before his eyes, a ship hovering above the Celtic Sea, as though it were floating in mid-air. He photographed the image and posted it on social media, drawing intense curiosity among the public.

What the observer saw was an optical illusion known as a “superior mirage”. It takes place when the difference in temperature between the ocean and the air above causes sunlight to bend around the horizon.

Under normal circumstances, cold air, which is denser, rests on top of warm air. But on that day, this situation was upturned when warm air sat on top of the cold air above the frigid sea. The effects of this temperature inversion combined with the refracted light and multiple layers of cold air resulted in a phenomenal sight called “superior mirage”.

When we look at a straw in a glass of water, it appears broken or bent. This happens because light travels through water and air at varying speeds. Now, coming to the phenomenon concerning the ship we talked about, it was the same principle at work, except that the light travelled from one layer of air to another, instead of air to water.

Yes, it’s a rare spectacle to see ships floating in the air above the oceans. All such bizarre sights we come across must stir our imagination and raise questions to get to the bottom of the mystery backed by scientific reasoning.