Stunning photo of Mallorca taken from Barcelona defies science – just how did the photographer do it?

AN INCREDIBLE photo of Mallorca taken from Barcelona a full 200km distant has wowed viewers and delivered a rare lesson in atmospheric refraction.

Catalan photographer Alfons Puertas captured the ghostly silhouette of Balearic island, outlined against the orange glow of the Earth’s halo.

He took it from the Fabra observatory located 415 metres above sea level atop Mt Tibidabo at the crack of dawn on Tuesday.

This incredible photo was taken before sunrise on Tuesday 13 November from atop Mount Tibidabo in Barcelona. It clearly shows the outline and ghostly lights of Mallorca across the Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Alfons Puertas (@alfons_pc)

The ethereal lights of Port de Soller can clearly be seen from the south-south-east direction that the image follows.

Such a photo would normally be impossible due to the curvature of the Earth hiding objects behind the horizon.

However, Twitter user Alex (@alexsnclmnt) delved into the extraordinary science of atmospheric refraction which makes such extraordinary captures possible.

Atmospheric refraction bends light over the horizon, allowing distant objects to become visible under certain atmospheric conditions, he explained. 

In this instance, the exceptionally clear skies and the specific angle of light were coupled with a period of low pollution, low humidity and the rising sun.

This rare confluence of conditions enabled Puertas to capture the outline of Mallorca from Barcelona.

The world record for long distance photography was set by another Catalan, Marc Bret, who captured the peak of Gaspard in the French Alps from a peak in Spain’s Pyrenees.

The photograph spanned a remarkable distance of 443 kilometres, under identical atmospheric conditions as Puertas’ photo.


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