IT looks like any other city skyline with skyscrapers, a few mountains and trees – except it isn’t real. The giant mirage appeared across the skyline near in East China earlier this month after heavy rainfall and humid conditions along the Xin’an River. As mist settled over the river at dusk, tall buildings appeared to rise from nowhere, leading residents in nearby Huanshan City to speculate that the vision may be a “vortex” to a lost civilisation. “It’s really amazing, it looks like a scene in a movie, in a fairlyland,” one resident told UK news channel ITN.

The mysterious city had vanished just as quickly as it had come. Scientists have quashed the vortex theory and, as per usual, have a simple explanation for the incredible sight. They believe it may have been a mirage, caused when moisture in the air becomes warmer than the temperature of the water below. When rays of sunlight cross from the colder air into the warmer air they are refracted or bent – creating a reflection in the air that looks similar to a reflection in water. It’s a common sight for many travellers on Australian roads. But we Australians tend to see puddles of water that disappear when you get close, not entire cities floating on rivers.

Calling Fox Mulder….




  1. bobbo, words have meaning says:

    Good Story. Nice voice on the news reader.

    Better: identify the city that is being projected. Should be easy enough to do. I’ve only ever seen mirage “lakes” in the desert and they looked fake.

    Ain’t nature/science/our world grand?

  2. LCR says:

    This report is incomplete and typical of news stories everywhere. Done by some knucklehead who does not understand what they are reporting on. Obviously, these building exist SOMEWHERE. Where? is the question. This sort of optical effect is not unheard of. The buildings are further away than they appear. What buildings are they? It’s SOMEWHERE. There have been mirages wherein the people in the streets or a distant city are visible.
    A youtube video would be more comprehensive and informative than this bit of “professional” reporting.

  3. lynn says:

    I am at work and don’t have access to my books but I believe the phenomenon is explained nicely in Minnaert’s “Nature of Light and Color in the Open Air”. Correct, LCR, the city has to actually exist, but it can be quite far away, depending on the topography of the land in between.

  4. Buzz Mega says:

    This was shown by several sources to be complete BS. The city is completely real and exactly where it’s supposed to be.

    For two no mirages look like this at all, even ones that are stretched vertically to resemble buildings.

    For three, a local flood and fog surprised people, but the translations have nothing to do with the story’s premise.

    One debunker even showed a map detailing where everything really is. No mystery AT ALL.

    A city viewed over a layer of fog does not equal a “mirage.”

    McCullough needs to discover the editorial process known as corroboration.

    [I’m still waiting for that link Buzz – ed. McCullough]

  5. McCullough says:

    #4. It’s fine to insult me, but at least provide a link.

  6. MadTruckMan says:

    Yeah, would it have been that hard for ITN to, maybe, take an AFTER video to show us what it normally looks like?? Context would be nice…

  7. wirelessg says:

    Actually, the air is so polluted in China, this is the first time that many residents saw those buildings from that distance.

  8. McCullough says:

    #7. Now THAT’S a plausible explanation, har!

  9. Ah_Yea says:

    wirelessg, LOL!

    Man, you’ve got that right!

  10. Ah_Yea says:

    How come all these weird things happen in some other country??

    Harder to verify if it’s in the middle of China??

  11. GregAllen says:

    I think WirelessG has the most probably explanation.

    If the Chinese are unused to seeing clear air, it could have seemed much closer than it actually was.

    I also agree with LCR — what a lousy job of reporting.

  12. martron3000 says:

    Well, the answer is OBVIOUS! It’s clearly a rip in the fabric of space-time, exposing an alternate parallel universe. Why do people always try to dream up a complicated “mirage” theory, when the truth is so simple?

  13. chuck says:

    #5 – it’s ok to insult you?

    Ok, here goes: you’re ugly and your hygiene is questionable. But I have no source links to back this claim.

  14. Ah_Yea says:

    McCullough is man, he can take it.

  15. LCR says:

    From the link:

    “The giant mirage appeared across the skyline near in East China earlier this month after heavy rainfall and humid conditions along the Xin’an River.

    “As mist settled over the river at dusk, tall buildings appeared to rise from nowhere, leading residents in nearby Huanshan City to speculate that the vision may be a “vortex” to a lost civilisation.

    “Scroll down to see amazing footage of the ghost city

    “It’s really amazing, it looks like a scene in a movie, in a fairlyland,” one resident told UK news channel ITN.

    “The mysterious city had vanished just as quickly as it had come.

    OK, people. It’s obvious what this is. It rained in China. Fog appeared. The buildings near the water had a fog layer beneath them. The residents thought it was unusual. They took pictures. The Australian “JOURNALISTS” ran a story about a “mysterious city”.
    Somewhere it got transformed from a mist-enshrouded city to a “mirage” or a “mysterioius city”.

    Sheesh! Anyone ready to accept that “JOURNALISTS” are often dumb shits?

    (I work for a major television network’s owned and operated news station in SF. Believe me, there are very few bright people inside the building.)

  16. So what says:

    10 we have congress and obama how much weirder do you want things to get.

  17. admfubar says:

    we get a similar phenomena to the one described, here in the great lakes, often we can see a bit of Canada from Cleveland when there is a temperature inversion over the lake.

  18. The Sexy Voice says:

    Obviously this is all Dick Cheney’s fault. The sheeple will believe anything if a sexy voice says it.

  19. Yankinwaoz says:

    #7 nailed it.

    I don’t know how old everyone is on this board. But back in the mid 1980’s, the air pollution in the Los Angeles basin was really, really bad. Much worse than it is today. The winds use to push all the LA smog east and it would pile up against the mountains in San Bernardino and Riverside. It was so bad that you literally could not see more than 1/4 a mile on most any given day.

    I used to have to drive out to March Air Force Base in Riverside a few times a week for my job. For years I never once saw any mountains or hills between Ontario and Redlands. All you saw was brown gunk.

    Now when I drive through the area, I am always amazed at how much I can see. Most days I can see the tops of the San Bernardino mountains, from Mt. Baldy to Mt. San Jacinto.

    When all you known is pollution, sudden clear skies seem startling.

    On a similar vein….
    After the Northridge earthquake, many people commented how “alive” the night sky seemed. It felt like something had changed in the heavens. The reason was simple… no power… thus no light pollution. No one in LA had seen the stars for years. When they finally did that night, it kinda freaked them out.

  20. Cap'nKangaroo says:

    There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that this is a new city built by and for Foxconn.

    Apple public relations reiterated that this city has nothing to do with the iPhone5 and the city did not appear when Steve Jobs lost his train of thought and the Reality Distortion Field wavered.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Is anyone paying attention? We’re talking about CHINA here people! Who knows what evil subversive stealth technology they’re working on? And who knows WHY the Chinese press would want to fabricate a story here either? Surely, they don’t do that any more. Right? (Can I give a big bitch slap here?!)

    But if you like conspiracy theory and want to call in Fox Mulder then could this possibly be a weapon that the Chinese are trying to develop? After all, if you can project a whole city in thin air what else can be projected? Certainly not economic stability!

    Then again, I’d like to know if Los Alamos might be missing any more classified stuff that could possibly explain this. They just had another fire there recently and our press isn’t exactly asking a whole lot of questions either. And when you consider just who benefited from the last security breach of U.S. secrets at Los Alamos was do you get any chills? After all, Los Alamos is in a State that borders Mexico. Coincidence?! (Can someone please queue the Twilight Zone music.)

    …I know it’s a bit of a stretch but no one was thinking about Iran Contra before that was exposed either.

  22. Buzz Mega says:

    #5, you’re the journalist. Learn to corroborate.

  23. Lou Minatti says:

    The Chinese are cranking out vacant buildings at the same pace they crank out iPad’s. Local residents were mystified when they woke up and discovered that these new empty building popped up over night.

    How many vacant overpriced/unaffordable housing units in China now… 70 million or so? Last month it was 65 million.

  24. Buzz Mega says:

    Some people are physics-challenged. They don’t know how to evaluate phenomena they see or feel with anything like a sense of accuracy.

    In this example the reporter who amplified the story into “mirage” status has zero experience evaluating mirages. But not all of us are that novice.

    Mirages form when layers of air or particulates in air cause optical effects. The road mirage or desert mirage that produces the illusion of a watery surface is quite common. Sun dogs that make halos, streaks and bright areas are less common.

    On the ocean, mirages form that can look like “distant cities” in the eyes of inexperienced viewers. But that’s a variation of the road mirage over water that causes further details to stretch, usually quite vertically, and always in watery motion. If ice floes or distant shore features get tangled in this sort of illusion, then the effect of vertical lines can look quite a bit like far off apartment complexes, hence the “city”-like description that people pass around.

    When low fog over a flooded river area sticks to the ground, distant city parts can appear to be floating, somewhat. Mirages never produce solid, optically perfect images of real places. The closest they come to that is when a very, very flat thermal layer above observer eye height reflects something very far away.

    A very few instances of people thinking they saw distant ships are in the literature, but not so many recently since sea captains learned how to make accurate observations.

    On the face of it, the idea of seeing buildings, cranes, lights, windows and city detail this optically correct can only come from one place: the optically correct view through relatively calm air.

    None of the Fatima Morgana mirages have no such optically correct qualities, but people hear incomplete descriptions of them, then turn around and label phenomena like this one as an example of something they have no direct experience with. Through words alone, they assume things.

    Here’s a Fatima: http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/graphics/photos/fatamorg.jpg

    If the words of the interview subjects are to become part of the story, one will find that no sense of “mirage” was present at all. And nothing at all—AT ALL—in the story suggests any special phenomena in the slightest.

    It’s an ILLUSION that the city elements are floating. Because the bridge is higher than the top of the fog bank.

    That’s all there is.

    Here:

    http://aukiman.blogspot.com/2011/06/huangshan-city-mirage-all-down-to-bad.html

  25. jstokey says:

    #21 The forest fire did not start at Los Alamos labs. It started some distance away in a forest. I live in Denver and here about this fire half dozen times a day. We get forest fire updates all the time. There is always a forest burning somewhere in Colorado/New Mexico this year.

  26. lynn says:

    Buzz, #24, you mean Fata Morgana. If you’re interested in optics, check out the Specter of the Brocken. I trust you can find the link yourself. 🙂

  27. Rick says:

    Maybe it was just David Copperfield playing a prank.

  28. deowll says:

    There is an issue. You can recognize that this is a city. If it is a reflection of a known city somebody ought to be saying hey, that big building is the______. They aren’t or if they have they need to share.

  29. Sea Lawyer says:

    “Nice voice on the news reader.”

    Yeah, she sounds like she needs to put down another carton of cigarettes.


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