Elias Chasiotis, an amateur astronomer, has been fascinated by the sky since he was a youngster. He is very interested in eclipses and recently travelled to Qatar to see the annular solar eclipse. While clouds made photographing the eclipse difficult, Chasiotis was rewarded with something much more stunning. The eclipse was already in place when the sun rose over the seas, creating a remarkable optical illusion.
“The dark circle near the top of the atmospherically-reddened Sun is the Moon—but so is the dark peak just below it” NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day says. “This is because the Earth’s atmosphere had an inversion layer of abnormally warm air along the way, which worked like a massive lens and generated a second image.”
The placement of Chasiotis was not by chance. He purposefully chose Al Wakrah because he knew the eclipse would begin at dawn and hoped that his position above the water would produce a mirage. When it occurs during regular dawn, this atmospheric optical phenomena is known as the Etruscan Vase effect. The optical illusion was called for the shape it creates by great science fiction writer Jules Verne.
While Chasiotis was unhappy not to be able to view the entire annular solar eclipse—in which the moon totally covers the sun, leaving just a ring of fire visible—he is more than delighted with what he caught that day.