Mountain Shadows Are Nature's Coolest Optical Illusion

Call it a view of moonrise kingdom.

The astronomers who run NASA's beautiful Astronomy Photo Of The Day blog posted a haunting image this week of the moon rising through the immense shadow of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano.

mauna kea moonrise

To reiterate: That's not a mountain in the background. It's the mountain's shadow, and it's huge.

The sun set behind the camera, thereby casting the long shadow. Thanks to basic geometry, the shadow shows a pointed top, no matter the shape of the mountain's summit.

This geometric phenomenon happens all over the world, and while the sight is best seen IRL on a summit, the beautiful photos below are also incredible:

paul doherty
Mount Hood, Oregon, USA

Mount Fuji, Japan.

mountain shadow
Volcán Tajamulco, Guatemala.

mountain shadow
Mount Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia.

greece shadow
Hagios Elias, Taíyetos Mountains, Greece.

mount rainier shadow
Mount Rainier, Washington, USA.

Mount Rainier, Washington, USA.



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