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SubArctic Fata Morgana | by David Cartier
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SubArctic Fata Morgana

Yesterday's superb Arctic Mirage, above the Tetlin Hills of Eastern Alaska.

Here, as the rays of light bend into the cold, dry air, part of the range has actually broken off and is spreading to the right. I've had folks glance at these and say ... "Wow, Weird Clouds!" .... NYET ! .... There was not a wisp of a cloud in the sky yesterday morning.

( I'm sometimes hesitant to post images of this fascinating phenomena, since these days, many people might glance at something like this and assume it's been digitally manipulated, or "photoshopped") This is real, ..absolutely faithful to nature.

Although cropped, this is exactly the scenery visible from the roadside yesterday.

When I'm seeing these, I find myself hopelessly fascinated .... It makes you ponder furiously the very nature of reality, vision, matter, light ..........

Between 1906 and 1909, the famous polar explorer Robert Peary spent a fortune pursuing an elusive land mass he called "Crocker Land", in the high Arctic, that he had glimpsed on an earlier expedition..., which was actually a mirage formed above the ragged ice pack. His Eskimo assistants had warned him that this was the case, but evidently he was not good at listening to those who knew better.

Sky Mirages are probably also responsible for many UFO reports ... A bright planet on the horizon, it's shape thus distorted by a Fata Morgana, can certainly produce a good UFO, for folks not accustomed to mentally interpreting such sights.

A "Fata Morgana" is an atmospheric mirage,commonly seen in frigid Polar regions , caused by complexly arranged thermal gradients, within a temperature inversion. The word, from Italian, means "Fairy Morgan", and alludes to Morgan LeFay, King Arthur's sorceress half sister, who legendarily had the power to create crystal palaces in the air.

( To see how these hills looked 20 minutes later when the mirage evaporated, scroll back 6 images in my photostream ... that is exactly the SAME place!) If you carefully compare the two, you'll notice that the mirage seems to actually be piling a reversed image of the scenery on top of the view we normally see.

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Taken on February 20, 2008