The image is breath-taking. In the photo taken on 26th December during a partial solar eclipse, you can see ‘devil horns’ rising over the Persian Gulf. The photograph, which is completely genuine, was taken by a Greek photographer named Elias Chasiotis while he was on holiday in Qatar at the end of 2019. He then uploaded his photo to Facebook where it quickly went viral and was seen by the entire world.
‘The most awesome sunrise I’ve ever seen!’
‘The red crescent sunrise was the most awesome sunrise I’ve ever seen!’ he wrote on social media. His photos were shared more than 1,500 times by other internet users who were all completely blown away by these ‘devil horns’.
And yet, why did this eclipse look so devilish? It turns out that it was the weather conditions and clouds in particular which led to this incredible sight. The Astronomy Picture of the Day blog ran by a scientist from NASA, explained the phenomenon.
‘The sun appeared to rise in two pieces […] The dark circle near the top of the atmospherically reddened Sun is the Moon – but so is the dark peak just below it. This is because, along the way, the Earth’s atmosphere had an inversion layer of unusually warm air which acted as a giant lens and created a second image.’
An ‘Etruscan vase’ effect
As Gentside has previously explained, this phenomenon is called the ‘Etruscan vase effect’. It occurs when the light reflected by the Moon is refracted through an atmospheric layer of cold air. As the French website Konbini explains, Jules Verne wrote about the subject in his novel ‘The Green Ray’.
‘The deformation of the disk, modified by refraction, gradually becomes visible; it widens at the expense of its vertical diameter which looks similar to an Etruscan vase with rounded sides and a base submerged in the water.’
In Elias Chasiotis’ photos, lots of internet users, who you could consider conspiracy theorists,have seen a sign of the tensions that currently exist between the United States and the Middle East. Others clearly see it as a warning of the assassination of General Soleimani, who was killed a week later by a drone. Well, that’s what you call a good imagination.