Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Fata Morgana

A Fata Morgana.

Fata Morgana is the Latin translation of Morgan le Fay, who was the half-sister of King Arthur and an adversary of the Round Table. In Antarctica, a Fata Morgana is a optical illusion, specifically a superior mirage. A superior mirage occurs when the air below the line of sight is colder than the air above causing the light rays to bend down which causes the image to appear above the true object. These are very stable mirages because the cold air isn't likely to rise - maintaining the temperature gradient.

Another Fata Morgana.

We commonly know inferior (desert or highway) mirages. These are the opposite of superior mirages and are caused when the air above the line of sight is colder than the ground air. The light rays are bent up causing the image to appear below where it actually is. These aren't as stable because the hotter temperature rises which changes the temperature gradient.

An inferior (desert) mirage photographed by Mila Zinkova

A friend of mine down here sent the information about Fata Morganas to her friend Morgan spawning a discussion about what other natural phenomena have people names. We came up with an easy one for her name, Dawn, and after a little searching we also came up with one for my birth name, William.


Will O' the Wisp.

Will O' the Wisp refers to the ghostly lights sometimes seen at night over bogs. There is no definitive explanation as to why these lights occur yet.

If you have any others, let me know about them.

1 comment:

  1. You learn something new every day. Well, some folks do. :)