Refraction, sunset and Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings

We were having a meal outside the other night, on a warm and clear evening. The sea was calm and the sun was still quite high in the sky at 9pm. From our house, you can see the Isle of May (aka May Island) and at first, we had a normal view of the island in the distance – it’s 12.7 miles (21K)away. We then noticed that the island was changing shape. This was due to refraction which distorts the image. At first, the lighthouse on the top of the island turned into a column, then the island seemed to split into two, with 2 columns in between each layer. Finally, the island took on the shape of an anvil. All this happened slowly over about an hour and a half and my wife and I and our 3 visiting relatives were fascinated. My brother in law, who is a former ship’s captain, once told me that refraction caused him to see a ship coming toward his ship upside down. Photo 1 shows the Isle of May in normal view during the day.

Isle of May - normal view

Isle of May – normal view

Photo 2 ( this was the best image I could get) shows the first effect of refraction.


Isle of May refraction

Isle of May refraction

Photo 3 shows the island changing to an anvil shape.

Isle of May refraction

Isle of May refraction

That same evening, there was a glorious sunset over Dunbar and in Photo 4, you can see the refractory effect on the setting sun and, in Photo 5, the changes in the colour of the sky. So, it turned out to be a very entertaining evening, watching the refraction on the Isle of May close up through my x25 magnification scope, seeing the constantly changing colours of the sunset, and enjoying some very tasty Coonawarra wine.

Sunset with refracted sun

Sunset with refracted sun

Sunset over Dunbar

Sunset over Dunbar


On Sunday, I went to the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh with another brother in law, to see Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings ably supported by the energetic 69 year old Maggie Bell’s Band. The theatre was packed by women and men of a certain age and it turned into a very enjoyable and entertaining evening. The Rhythm Kings, fronted by ex Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, were a 9 piece band with 2 energetic saxophonists, a piano/keyboard player, a drummer, 4 guitarists and a powerful vocalist Beverley Skeete. The band played rock and roll, the blues, soul, rockabilly and Americana, and were given a standing ovation at the end. A Youtube search will provide many good (if legally suspect?) examples of the band and Skeete’s vocals. The Rhythm Kings change the line up constantly and if you get the chance to see them, don’t pass it up.


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