Heavenly Sights: How a Simple Sunset Became an Angelic Vision

Exploring the Intersection of Nature and Optical Science Through a Stunning Photograph

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Photography not only captures moments but also beautifully illustrates the intertwining of art and science, as seen in Stuart Murray’s serendipitous photo of an “angelic” sunset in Portsoy, Aberdeenshire. This image, which strikingly resembled an angel with wings, serves as a perfect example of light refraction and scattering—key optical phenomena. Light refraction occurs when light waves pass through different mediums at varying speeds, bending in the process. Scattering, on the other hand, involves the diffusion of light waves as they encounter particles and droplets in the atmosphere, contributing to the dramatic visual effects during sunsets. Murray’s photo, a blend of the right timing and atmospheric conditions, showcases how natural light can sculpt seemingly supernatural images, prompting both awe and scientific curiosity.

As the sun dipped further into the North Sea, its reflection stretched across the vast expanse of water. The phone camera cleverly created an optical illusion, making the stripe of light appear to form semi-circles to the left and right of the setting sun.
As the sun dipped further into the North Sea, its reflection stretched across the vast expanse of water. The phone camera cleverly created an optical illusion, making the stripe of light appear to form semi-circles to the left and right of the setting sun.
At approximately 9:45 pm, Mr. Murray seized the perfect moment to snap a few pictures with his mobile phone. The reflections in the sky and sea coalesced to form what appeared to be an angelic figure.
The photos reveal the light transforming into a celestial shape with outstretched wings, presenting a breathtaking display of natural beauty.

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