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The Himawari-8 geostationary weather satellite recently had a lunar intrusion into it's primary sensor (the Advance Himawari Imager, or AHI):
enter image description here

Zooming in on the moon:
enter image description here I see a strange cupping (or 'peeling') of the moon away from the horizon: enter image description here

My question is: what is the explanation for this 'peeling' aberration?

Note: if your answer involves the lunar terminator, please account for the following concerns:

  1. At the time of day of the photograph, we see the Earth with ~5 degrees of longitude in night. The Earth presents approximately 17 degrees across from GEO, so the moon is $17^{\circ}/2=8.5^{\circ}$ degrees away from nadir, and so I expect the moon to have $5^{\circ}+8.5^{\circ}= 13.5^{\circ}$ of longitude in night. With barely half the moon peaking out above the Earth's horizon, the terminator is well behind the Earth.
  2. The cupping aberration appears equal on both edges. The Sun is in the top right corner of the picture, and so I would expect a terminator related effect to be more pronounced on the bottom of the moon than the top.
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Looks like an inferior mirage to me.

This:

https://aty.sdsu.edu/explain/simulations/inf-mir/Kaplan_photos.html

Has a work through for the disk of the sun but I think the same general principles apply here as well.

The specific effect will be somewhat different since in the image from space rays are moving from space down into and through the atmosphere, and then back up again, whereas in the image below the rays terminate at the Earth's surface.


Simulation and photograph from Andrew T. Young's page Photographs of an Inferior-Mirage Sunset:

The inferior mirage is very clearly shown in a series of sunset images taken by George Kaplan, of the U. S. Naval Observatory. Here, I describe what's seen in these images, which are actually on the Naval Observatory's website. They are such a “textbook example” of the inferior-mirage sunset that I begged for some details, and permission to show the images here.

 from Andrew T. Young's page Photographs of an Inferior-Mirage Sunset

sunset images taken by George Kaplan, of the U. S. Naval Observatory

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent find! Since links rot and break over time, so I've pulled in a few images and credited both Andrew Young's work and the photos by George Kaplan, of the U. S. Naval Observatory. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 16 at 21:26

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