Jan 19, 2017 I Paul Seaburn

Latest Floating Chinese City Has An Unusual New Explanation

Has the mystery of the floating cities seen by so many people over various locations in China finally been solved? A new video shows what appears to be a city levitating over Yueyang in Hunan province in South Central China. Is it a Fata Morgana? Parallel universe? Alien ship? Project Blue Beam? Keep guessing … you’re not even close.


This new floating city is just latest in a string of similar sightings over the past few years. A ghostly city appeared over a river in Huanshan City in 2011. There were two within days of each other in October 2015 – one over Foshan and another over Jiangxi. In 2016, a floating city appeared over Dalian. While mostly in China, these ghost cities have appeared elsewhere, such as the one seen over Hastings, England, also in October 2105.

The usual scientific explanations for these mysterious sightings have been mirages or the phenomenon known as Fata Morgana. Mirages, caused by refracted light rays, generally appear lower to the ground and are fuzzy. Clearer images higher in the sky, like the floating cities, are attributed to temperature inversions in the upper atmosphere, most often over bodies of water, causing the sharper, tower-shaped images of the Fata Morgana illusion.

Outside of the scientific realm, popular explanations for the floating cities include a vision into a portal leading to another city in a parallel universe, a huge city-shaped spacecraft descending upon the city or a test of the alleged holographic devices of Project Blue Beam.

None of those things, scientific or paranormal, caused the image of a city to appear over Qianmu Lake in Yueyang on the afternoon of January 14th, 2017, that was witnessed and recorded by numerous people and reported by China's state-owned Xinhua News Agency. After the usual panic and excitement had died down, Li Dongyang, deputy director of the Yueyang Meteorological Bureau, explained what they had seen – an optical illusion caused by radiation fog.

Radiation fog

Radiation fog! That sounds even worse than a portal to a parallel universe! Fortunately, it refers to radiation as in a heat radiator, not radioactivity. Radiation fog is a fairly common form of evening fog. Cool ground meets the thermal radiation of hot air and forms a layer of mist above the ground. If that sounds boring in comparison to portals or Fata Morganas, it gets worse – the optical illusion in this case is pretty lame too. The ghostly buildings seen above Yueyang were actual tall buildings in Yueyang whose lower floors were blocked by the radiation fog.

That’s the story according to the Yueyang Meteorological Bureau and they’re sticking to it. Still think it’s a portal to a parallel universe? As Groucho Marx once said:

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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