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Fata Morgana: The mirage that sunk the Titanic

31/07/2012
Fata Morgana: False wall of water. Photo Mila Zinkova.

Fata Morgana: False wall of water. Photo Mila Zinkova.

Did this mirage help sink the Titanic?

The optical phenomenon called Fata Morgana can make strange shapes or a false wall of water appear above a watery horizon.

When conditions are right, light reflecting off of cold water will be
bent by an unusual layer of warm air above to arrive at the observer from several different angles.

A conceptually comparable mirage can make a setting Sun appear strangely distorted or a distant pavement appear wet.

One hundred years ago today, such a Fata Morgana mirage might have obscured real icebergs from the clear view of crew onboard the
Titanic.

Additional evidence for this distortion hypothesis arises from the nearby vessel SS Californian which reported sightings consistent with Fata Morgana mirages.

The above Fata Morgana mirage was taken off the US Pacific coast in 2008.

English: Fata Morgana (mirage) of islands

English: Fata Morgana (mirage) of islands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Atmospheric Illusion - Fata Morgana #1/3

Atmospheric Illusion – Fata Morgana #1/3 (Photo credit: jimflix!)

English: Fata Morgana off the Belgian coast (M...

English: Fata Morgana off the Belgian coast (Middelkerke town). The black bars are probably distant ships that were vertically stretched. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Fata Morgana off the Santa Cruz shoreline as...

A Fata Morgana off the Santa Cruz shoreline as seen from Moss Landing, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

* Titanic sank due to ‘mirage’ caused by freak weather

* False wall of water created by ‘Fata Morgana’ mirage may have hidden iceberg from Titanic lookouts until it was too late

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