Mysterious ability to see the ocean from landlocked Arizona explained by park service

NPS/RMM Becca Miller photo

Arizona is nowhere near the Pacific Ocean, but on some mornings it appears you can see the coast from inside Petrified Forest National Park.

That’s about 600 miles from the nearest Pacific beach.

Still, a photo shared Nov. 21 by the park shows rangers have a magnificent “ocean front” view at dawn.

It’s deceiving, however.

“While this looks like we’ve got a view of a beautifully calm ocean, don’t go grabbing your surfboards and scuba gear just yet!” park officials wrote.

“This amazing phenomenon you can see during clear sunrises and sunsets is a combination of the Earth’s shadow (dark blue) and the Belt of Venus (pink). The Belt of Venus has nothing to do with the planet Venus, but instead is a product of how light travels through our atmosphere when the sun’s rays are at a very low angle.”

The phenomenon is best seen inside the park by facing away from the sunrise or sunset, officials said.

Park Ranger Becca Miller is credited with photographing the phantom ocean in mid October. She didn’t specify the location, however.

Petrified Forest National Park covers 221,390 acres, gets less than 10 inches of rain annually, and has “naturally dark” skies deemed perfect for stargazing and astrophotography.

It is best known for hosting one of the world’s largest concentrations of petrified wood. The trees date back more than 200 million years, the park says.

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