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What are Nature Optical Illusions?

By Puja RoyOctober 27, 2022
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Here are Some Nature Optical Illusions That Will Simply Blow Your Mind

Nature is filled with all kinds of strange and mind-blowing things that can just captivate the spectators watching them. With that being said, we are going to talk about the optical illusions that take place in nature. There are many different types of illusion we see. Some are man-made and some are just present in nature. Man-made illusions are one thing but talk about the nature optical illusions and they will surely make your mind go ‘wow’.

Just like that, all around the world, there are optical illusions that are occurring naturally and some of them are really interesting and captivating. From cloud formations to waterfalls and caves, there is a lot to see for sure. So, wouldn’t you want to know about these optical illusions in the first place? Well, before that, let us first understand what is illusion in the first place.

What is an Optical Illusion? 

Have you ever seen something that made you feel like your eyes are certainly playing tricks on you? While we are travelling in a car on a hot summer day, why should we see a mirage as a flowing water on the road? Well, it is highly likely that this was an optical illusion?

Optical illusions can be defined as pictures or images that we are perceiving differently than what they are actually supposed to be. Students read in their textbooks that optical illusions occur when our eyes send some information to the brain and trick us into thinking or seeing something that isn’t actually reality in the first place.

Similarly, when you think you are seeing water on the road, it is actually called a mirage. And just like this one, there are other very common and mind-blowing optical illusions that can be found in nature. These optical illusions are present in our surroundings and we come across them in our daily lives but fail to understand how and why they take place. Let us take a look at these natural illusions.

The Lake That Looks Like a Cliff

A Person Walking Along a Lake That Looks Like a Cliff

Situated in Utah, Lake Powell is one of the most deceiving optical illusions for sure. If you take a look at the picture, it might seem like there is a cliff that the person is going to fall off of. However, that is not the case. This picture was taken of the canyon that housed a beautiful pool of clear water and it was completely sheltered from any kind of wind. Hence, the still and clear water acted as a sort of mirror for the walls of the canyon that were lit by the sun in the late afternoon.

This view is definitely the perfect example of an illusion where the hiker is walking right on the edge of the cliff of the canyon wall. One of the best things about the picture is that once you view it upside down, the same picture seems like a huge cavern where the hiker is walking.

Clouds That Look Like UFOs

Lenticular Clouds that Look Like Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs)

One look at the clouds and you would think for a moment that a UFO has appeared in front of you. But worry not because it is a special type of cloud which is known for its shape that resembles a UFO. These types of clouds are basically known as lenticular clouds and these tend to be completely stationary.

These clouds are formed on the downwind side of any mountain range, provided the temperature is pretty low there. If the conditions are right, the air moisture condensation allows for the formation of these massive clouds in the sky that are quite often mistaken to be Unidentified Flying Objects or UFOs. Lenticular clouds are created due to the flowing of stable and moist air over any mountain or mountain range. Also, these clouds are said to appear as well as disappear very quickly.

Fata Morgana Optical Illusion

Islands Seem to be Floating Above the Horizon

This is a phenomenon that pretty much all of us have seen at least once in our lives. Travelling along the sea, you might look at some faraway islands or trees and they seem to be floating above the horizon. This eerie type of illusion is known as Fata Morgana. It is basically a rapidly altering and complex form of a very superior type of mirage. This particular illusion is created with the light bends while passing through a particular layer of air that is basically warmer than the air layer that is below it.

Created with several upright and inverted pictures that are stacked on top of one another, Fata Morganas can seem to appear as warped and with pretty many unrecognizable shapes and objects that seem to float above the horizon in the distance.

Bodies of Water in the Middle of the Desert

Structures Reflected on the Surface of the Desert

Although not like the Fata Morgana, mirages are inferior images that are created sometimes when the air is bending around the oceans or the earth's surface. This illusion can be seen over hot pavement, in any desert, or even in the sea. A mirage can be described as a phenomenon where you think you are seeing water but there doesn’t seem to be any.

Mirages are pretty common in sunny areas. When the sun heats up the surface, the air above it is also heated and the hot air bends the light and creates a surface that is reflective as it will reflect anything that is above it. When someone sees that from a distance, the air masses colliding with one another produce the same effect as a mirror. So, it might seem like there is water on the surface, but it is just the reflection of the sky or the structures above the surface that are reflected on the surface properly.


While sometimes, these mirages and illusions might seem unbelievable, there is no doubt that these fascinating examples of optical illusions in everyday life are something to admire and think about. Now that you know about the phenomena of these natural optical illusions, maybe the next time you look at them, your mind won’t be playing any tricks on you.