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Dramatic sunset over the Atlantic, seen near Rio

Cool air on the sea surface strongly refracted the setting sun, seen Saturday night from a small town near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Cool series of images!

January 17 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital.  Shot 1 of 6.

January 17, 2015 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital. Shot 1 of 6.

Helio de Carvalho Vital sent these photos to us over the weekend, and wrote:

That the strong refraction next to the horizon flattens the image of the setting sun is no surprise to anyone. But what if the sun suddenly becomes shaped like a mushroom? Saturday evening [January 17, 2015], I took some photos of the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean from Saquarema, a small city 100 km east of downtown Rio de Janeiro.

The local air temperature was 34°C but the seawater was only 21°C. Thus a layer of cooler air formed on the surface of the sea.

As sunlight crossed that layer to reach my camera, it underwent a complex series of refractions and reflections that severely distorted the image of the sun, making it acquire very unusual shapes.

A Canon Powershot SX60 HS was used for all the shots, taken at 21:39-41 UTC.

After sunset that same evening, Venus and Mercury appeared!

January 17 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital.  Shot 2 of 6.

January 17, 2015 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital. Shot 2 of 6.

January 17 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital.  Shot 3 of 6.

January 17 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital. Shot 3 of 6.

January 17, 2015 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital.  Shot 4 of 6.

January 17 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital. Shot 4 of 6.

January 17, 2015 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital.  Shot 5 of 6.

January 17 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital. Shot 5 of 6.

After sunset on January 17, as the sky began to darken, Venus and Mercury popped into view in the western sky.  Photo by Helio de Carvalho Vital.

After sunset on January 17, as the sky began to darken, Venus and Mercury popped into view in the western sky. Photo by Helio de Carvalho Vital.

Bottom line: Series of images of Saturday night’s amazing sunset, seen over the Atlantic from a small town near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Deborah Byrd

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