Chicago’s skyline is visible on clear weather across Lake Michigan from Michigan as long as the observer is on high ground, or if atmospheric refraction is strong enough. This observation is consistent with the expectations if Earth is a sphere.
Flat-Earthers claim that the visibility of Chicago from Michigan is not possible if Earth is a sphere. In reality, they failed to account for the height of the observer or atmospheric refraction and ignored the fact that only the upper parts of the buildings are visible.
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An inferior mirage is a phenomenon in which atmospheric refraction bends light rays to produce a mirrored image below a real object. It occurs when a hot surface heats the layer of air above it, placing it below a colder & denser layer of air.
Flat-Earthers like to use inferior mirages to “explain” how a distant object can appear partly obstructed if the Earth is flat. In reality, an inferior mirage cannot produce an appearance similar to an object partially obscured by Earth’s curvature.
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The distance to the horizon depends on the height of the observer and atmospheric refraction. The variability in atmospheric refraction can make the horizon appear in front of a distant object sometimes, and behind it in other times.
Some flat-Earthers raised a case —dubbed the “black swan” case— in which the horizon appears to be behind a distant object which is farther than the distance to the horizon according to calculation, and they use the fact to “disprove” Earth’s curvature. In reality, they did not account for atmospheric refraction, and that the amount of refraction varies.
Continue reading “Distance to the Horizon & the Black Swan Observation”