Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fata Morgana

ABC Wednesday
August 16th, 2017

The letter is F for FATA MORGANA

Earth Science Picture of the Day is a service of Universities Space Research Association

A Fata Morgana is a complex form of
superior mirage that is seen in a narrow band right
above the horizon.

This particular Fata Morgana is a mirage observed
from Brittany, France, and it is affecting the rather featureless
Island of  Ile d'Houat, located about eleven miles from 
the shoreline.

This photo was taken by Guillaume Doyen who says
"notice that parts of the island seem to be floating or looming.
Mirages such as this occur when there's a steep temperature
gradient.:  when a layer of colder air (immediately above the seawater)
is trapped below a layer of warmer air - a temperature inversion. the temperature at the time the picture was snapped was 98F"

Guilllaume Doyen goes on to say
"under these conditions light rays from a distant object
(the island) are curved toward the eye by layers of air
having different densities, caused by the abrupt temperature gradient.
So it seems that the island is more or less smeared upwards into a cliff."

This Fata Morgana mirage lasted for a little more than an hour.

Before science began to look into mirages, and their cause,
mirages were firmly in the realm of mysticism, and the fata morgana
takes its name from Morgan le Fay, that wicked half sister of King Arthur,
enchantress and treacherous fairy.

You may well ask how bending light creates a mirage,
 and here is where your brain enters the picture.

I learned this online, and I quote verbatim....

"When light hits your eyes, your brain assumes it arrived there in a straight path between you and the object reflecting the light.  So if light is bent on its way toward you your brain will think the object is where it would be if the light's path was straight.  This is why when you are looking down on a surface of water, objects under the surface will appear to be in a different spot than they actually are.....the human brain doesn't automatically account for refraction"

The writer of this article goes on to say 
"the brains of some birds like ospreys do correct for the effect
so that when they dive headlong into the water after a fish,
they are right on target"

but I digress.....

Christina Rossetti wrote a poem entitled FATA MORGANA
and it goes like this....

A blue-eyed phantom far before
is laughing, leaping toward the sun:
Like lead I chase it evermore,
I pant and run.

It breaks the sunlight bound on bound:
Goes singing as it leaps along
To sheep-bells with a dreamy sound
A dreamy song.

I laugh, it is so brisk and gay;
It is so far before, I weep:
I hope I shall lie down some day,
Lie down and sleep.

Perhaps she was referring to the constantly changing conditions 
of the atmosphere which causes the Fata Morgana
to change within just a few seconds of time,
alternating between stretched and compressed zones,
either erect or upside down.

If you are interested in reading more of the history of the Fata Morgana
I would suggest you Google 
"Fantastically wrong: the bizarre mirages that once 
scared the bejesus out of sailors"

and perhaps some day you might be in the right place at the right time
and see for yourself the fantastic
Fata Morgana

For more interesting Fs visit here
at ABC Wednesday
with thanks to all who maintain and visit....


Roger Owen Green said...

I assumed there had to be a Morgana Le Fay connection

Leslie: said...



Deepa said...

This is something new .
Thanks for sharing

Click Here to see what Mrs. Dash Says

carol l mckenna said...

Fascinating post for F and something to learn about ~ thanks ~ Happy Day to you ~ ^_^

ABC-Wednesday said...

Sometimes things can confuse one when having such an experience , I sometimes dream about it to

Have a wonderful ABC=day / -week
♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc=w=team)

Beverley Baird said...

How fascinating! I'd never heard of this kind of mirage - thanks for explaining.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Before I add Fata Morgana to my wish list, I am merely hoping to be in the right place to see a total eclipse of the sun next Monday. The information about these and other) mirages was interesting -- and I enjoyed your digression - having admired osprey's fish-catching talents many times. Fascinating.

sanpiseth40 said...

I'd never heard of this kind of mirage

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