Fata Morgana – Mirage
Fata Morgana, the wicked and insidious sorceress, lived long ago, in the time of the glorious King Arthur. She knew how to build amazing castles, luxurious palaces with fountains, and lured weary travelers there. Seeing these palaces, the travelers, as bewitched, turned off their path, and the wonderful visions disappeared without a trace. And Fata Morgana was amused, watching the great astonishment of people. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. King Arthur became a legend, and many people do not believe that he lived in reality. But Fata Morgana still keeps joking.
Many of us, at least once in our life, saw elementary mirages, for example, melted lakes on hot asphalt during the hot summer day. It is almost impossible to study mirages in detail. Morgana is always unpredictable.
There are a lot of legends about mirages. Even Aristotle clearly described how the inhabitants of Syracuse saw the coast of Italy from time to time for several hours. The caravans in Erg-er-Ravi desert in northern Africa were the victims of mirages very often. People saw oases at a distance of 2-3 km, but in reality the distance was not less than 700 km.
A mirage is an image that looks real but is not really there. It is caused by layers of air being at different temperatures and thicknesses. The differences in the layers of air can bend light. This bending, known as refraction, creates false images that people often believe truly exist.
Robert Wood, an American scientist nicknamed “the sorcerer of the physical laboratory”, was the first who took picture of mirage. In 1902, he photographed two boys peacefully wandering the waters of the Chesapeake Bay between yachts. And the growth of boys in the picture exceeded 3 m!
The numerous Flying Dutchmen, which is still seen by seafarers, are also mirages.
The ancient Egyptians believed that mirages were the ghosts of objects and places that once existed in reality, but had already disappeared.
The brightest and clearest mirages are recorded in the US, Alaska.
There are documented evidences confirming that whole groups of people observed huge complex mirages in the form of entire cities in the heavens.
In Russia, mirages often appear over Lake Baikal.