PICTURES: Unusual mirage in Northumberland

A Fata Morgana affects the view looking towards the Farne Islands.
A Fata Morgana affects the view looking towards the Farne Islands.

A visitor to north Northumberland appears to have captured pictures of a complex and unusual mirage called a Fata Morgana while looking towards the Farne Islands.

Craig Land is staying on Holy Island and noticed last night that the Farne Islands were looking 'odd, distorted and reflected'. He took these photos from the island's harbour around 8pm.

A Fata Morgana affects the view looking towards the Farne Islands. Pictures by Craig Land

A Fata Morgana affects the view looking towards the Farne Islands. Pictures by Craig Land

Intrigued by what the optical illusion was, he looked into it a bit further, discovering a phenomenon called a Fata Morgana - an unusual and complex form of superior mirage that is seen in a narrow band right above the horizon.

These mirages significantly distort the object or objects on which they are based, often such that the object is completely unrecognisable. A Fata Morgana can be seen on land or at sea and can involve almost any kind of distant object, including boats, islands and the coastline.

A Fata Morgana comprises several inverted and right-way-up images that are stacked on top of one another, which certainly seems to be what has happened to the Farne Islands in Craig's photos.

The optical phenomenon occurs because rays of light are bent when they pass through air layers of different temperatures.

A Fata Morgana affects the view looking towards the Farne Islands.

A Fata Morgana affects the view looking towards the Farne Islands.

A Fata Morgana affects the view looking towards the Farne Islands.

A Fata Morgana affects the view looking towards the Farne Islands.

The view of the Farne Islands looking back to normal this morning.

The view of the Farne Islands looking back to normal this morning.

The view of the Farne Islands looking back to normal this morning.

The view of the Farne Islands looking back to normal this morning.