Concrete Wall

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Concrete wall near the sea. There are also few rocks lying in the sand.

The horizon or skyline is the apparent line that separates earth from sky, the line that divides all visible directions into two categories: those that intersect the Earth's surface, and those that do not. The true horizon is actually a theoretical line, which can only be observed when it lies on the sea surface. At many locations, this line is obscured by land, trees, buildings, mountains, etc., and the resulting intersection of earth and sky is called the visible horizon. When looking at a sea from a shore, the part of the sea closest to the horizon is called the offing.

The true horizon is horizontal. It surrounds the observer and it is typically assumed to be a circle, drawn on the surface of a perfectly spherical model of the Earth. Its center is below the observer and below sea level. Its distance from the observer varies from day to day due to atmospheric refraction, which is greatly affected by weather conditions. Also, the higher the observer's eyes are from sea level, the farther away the horizon is from the observer. For instance, in standard atmospheric conditions, for an observer with eye level above sea level by 1.70 metres (5 ft 7 in), the horizon is at a distance of about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi).

When observed from very high standpoints, such as a space station, the horizon is much farther away and it encompasses a much larger area of Earth's surface. In this case, it becomes evident that the horizon more closely resembles an ellipse than a perfect circle, especially when the observer is above the equator, and that the Earth's surface can be better modeled as an ellipsoid than as a sphere.

The word horizon derives from the Greek "ὁρίζων κύκλος" horizōn kyklos, "separating circle", where "ὁρίζων" is from the verb ὁρίζω horizō, "to divide", "to separate", which in turn derives from "ὅρος" (oros), "boundary, landmark".


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