In nature, things often aren't what they seem. And if you want a mind-bending optical illusion, you don't necessarily have to look for moving animations or complicated Photoshop trickery. Sometimes, the good stuff is right in front of you.
And that's the case with the optical illusions we've gathered here, which all involve some element of the natural world. If these whet your appetite for more, see our general best optical illusions page.
01. Floating boat optical illusion
This illusion was spotted in Cornwall, UK, where a ship seemed to be floating in the sky. This phenomenon is called thermal inversion, and occurs when the sun hits the cold sea, causing abnormal refraction, which makes distant objects appear as if they're just hanging around in the sky. We can rationalise it all we like, but we still think we'd be shocked if we saw this out in the wild.
02. Galactic overlap optical illusion
We're still getting over this discovery of an optical illusion in space, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in September last year. What you're seeing above is two galaxies, more than a billion lightyears away from Earth, which look as if they've combined to create one giant super-galaxy. That's not actually the case though, the two galaxies are apparently "brushing past one-another" rather then merging together.
03. Three-headed deer illusion
Like the illusions above, this one was captured entirely by accident. Renatas Jakaitis, a photographer in Lithuania, captured what looks like a three-headed deer in the woods of Penevezys County. What's actually happened here is that these are three separate deer, but they all turned to the camera at the same time thanks to the sound of Jakaitis' camera shutter. We've been trying to replicate this one ever since we saw it, but we've failed miserably, mostly because we've yet to come across any deer in the wild.
04. Nintendo's Zelda sky illusion
This has always been my favorite peek behind the curtain in OoT. The skybox is just a small rotating cube that encloses the camera, and draws behind everything else. Here it is in the real cam's position and viewed from outside with a free cam cheat. It's so convincing! pic.twitter.com/0j6AlnctDGAugust 30, 2022
Okay so this one doesn't exactly take place in the natural world, but it does involve the sky, so we thought it was worth mentioning. Did you know that the sky in Zelda isn't exactly as it seems? It's actually just a small rotating cube, as the tweet above explains. We'll never look at it the same way.
If you're looking for more things to baffle your brain, then don't miss our recent story on these AI party images, which will stay with you for longer than you think.
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