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I have always wondered if Cyprus is visible from Lebanon since I hear our elderly say the following, As I got older and started to spend more time in Hiking & Camping activities for the past decade, I have finally came into conclusion that It is possible to see Cyprus, After seeing it multiple times I have managed to photograph the facts yesterday, But I need the experts to confirm the following info.

My location: Akoura, Lebanon 2050m - 34° 8'54.88"N 35°53'25.94"E [Sunset from Akoura looking west on 24/6/2023 at 19:59][1] Clear description of land area visible in the photo, All rights reserved: Photographer Haig Melikian

Google earth data shows the distance is around 290km between the two points

Troodos mountain range as seen in the original photo

Uncropped version of the posted photo above, taken from Akoura village in Lebanon at 2050m altitude looking west during sunset at 19:59

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    Wouldn't the visibility be much better with the Sun behind the photographer? Anyway, please delete the 3 answers that don't actually answer anything. You can add the relevant information into your question by editing it. Jun 26, 2023 at 9:42
  • @Johnnyjanko I suppose that at sunset you'll be better able to see the silhouette of the mountains than their surface at sunrise, when they are likely to be obscured by mist, haze, or fog.
    – phoog
    Jun 26, 2023 at 10:53
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    In the uncropped photo posted in an "answer", an obvious interpretation is that the sharp line right across the picture is the (sea) horizon, above which there is a pale narrow band of sky, and above that a bank of cloud, behind which the sun is setting. Jun 26, 2023 at 12:27

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The closest point of Cyprus from that location is about 200 km. The furthest point is about 350 km.

Ignoring the effect of atmospheric refraction, to see something at sea level 200 km away you need to be at an altitude of at least 3138 m, quite a bit higher than you were. To see something at sea level 350 km away you would need to be at an altitude of at least 9611 m.

Two things help:

  • mount Olympus has an elevation of 1952 m, and stands 293 km away from your location. It would be visible up to 320 km away, but that would mean that from your location, you would just have the very top of the mount main visible and nothing else.
  • Most importantly, atmospheric refraction “curves” the path light can take which means you can, in the right circumstances, see further than if light travelled only in a straight path.

However, atmospheric refraction depends on temperature gradients (the difference in temperatures of different air layers).

In standard conditions this increases the distance to the horizon by about 8%. This is still not enough to see any part of Cyprus at sea level from your altitude (you would be able to see up to 175 km away). You can still see the top of mountains, a bit more than without refraction.

There are then two possibilities:

  • atmospheric conditions were more favorable and “bent” light more than usual, so you could see further
  • You actually can’t see anything from Cyprus but the very top of mountains.

It’s very difficult to identify anything in your pictures. Honestly it looks more like clouds close to the horizon than anything else, especially when you consider that on your uncropped picture that dark irregular part extends on both sides a lot further, and the lighter band beneath it.

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