Can You See the Toronto Skyline From the Lake Ontario Shoreline in New York? The Legend of the Rochester Mirage
An interesting question was posed on reddit recently, can New Yorkers who live along the south shore of Lake Ontario in Rochester see the Toronto skyline? With the sky-piercing CN Tower, the one-time tallest building in the world, It certainly seems like it might be possible.
Scientists say however, the distance across the lake and the curvature of the earth are obstacles too great for the naked eye to overcome to see Toronto.
The Rochester Mirage
A century before the CN Tower defined the Toronto skyline, Rochester residents claimed to have caught a glimpse of the great Canadian metropolis. RocWiki tells of a phenomenon known as the Rochester Mirage. On April 16, 1871, Rochester residents gathered near the mouth of the Genesee River on the Lake Ontario shoreline and
found themselves able to make out the opposite shore of Lake Ontario in vivid detail. Lakes, forests, and Canadian landmarks were all somehow made easily identifiable to the naked eye despite their actual distance of over 50 miles away.
The phenomenon only lasted a day and in the nearly century-and-a-half since, the scene has never been repeated.
What made the vision possible? No one can say for sure, but the most likely reason is an obscure atmospheric phenomenon known as a Fata Morgana. According to Wikipedia, Fata Morgana mirage
distort the object or objects which they are based on significantly, often such that the object is completely unrecognizable. A Fata Morgana can be seen on land or at sea, in polar regions or in deserts. This kind of mirage can involve almost any kind of distant object, including boats, islands, and the coastline.
If it happened once, it could certanly happen again. And if it happened today, there would be iPhone, HD cameras and GoPros to capture it all.