Interesting facts about mirages

Posted on May 17, 2022      378

For a long time, mirages remained completely unstudied natural phenomenon. Because of their features, they entered the culture and folklore of many peoples, and most often mirages are represented in folklore as machinations of evil forces wishing to confuse travelers. And indeed, they can easily deceive an inexperienced or simply careless traveler, and lead him somewhere far from his road. However, modern science has long since figured out mirages and studied them thoroughly, although some points remain unclear.

Facts about mirages

  • Contrary to popular belief, mirages can be seen not only over a hot surface but also over a cold one because they occur because of temperature differences in different layers of air. However, they still occur more often in popular places.
  • The famous fata morgana is not a synonym for the word “mirage”, but one variety of this phenomenon.
  • Mirages are not only found in deserts. This phenomenon often occurs overseas, including lakes and ice. Here are some of the most amazing mirages documented in history.
  • According to a December 21, 1901 New York Times article, a group of fishers saw the shadow of a large city on the horizon of frozen Lake Erie. One fisher first saw this shadow and shared it with his friends. Then they also witnessed this strange phenomenon. In the shadow they saw a large city with hundreds of buildings and roads. The shadow grew brighter and clearer and they even saw the lights of buildings.

  • Hot and cold mirages differ from each other in their properties. So, it is possible to see an object located beyond the horizon line only if the mirage appeared above an icy surface.
  • From the scientific point of view, a mirage is an optical phenomenon that occurs when the light is cleverly reflected from the layers of air heated to different temperatures and therefore with different density.
  • In air saturated with water vapor, amazingly realistic mirages sometimes appear at close distances. In rare cases, one can even see one’s own copy nearby. Such phenomena frightened the primitive people to death.
  • In laboratory conditions, with suitable equipment, it is easy to reproduce a mirage.
  • On September 27, 1846, the city of Edinburgh appeared in the clouds above Liverpool. Witnesses to this scene were two residents of Birkenhead. The mirage lasted 40 minutes. Edinburgh itself is located 325 km north of Liverpool.
  • Some old documents describe cases where huge and complex mirages, like a whole city in the sky, were observed by groups of people at once.
  • Mirages are especially dangerous in the African desert of Erg-er-Rawi. They most often appear as oases, which seem to be very close, but in fact the distance to them reaches hundreds of kilometers.
  • Thousands of tourists and locals witnessed a mirage in May 2005. The phenomenon lasted for four hours on the coast of the Chinese province of Shandong. Before that it had rained for two days. The rising fog created a mirage as a city with modern buildings. Busy streets filled with cars and people were clearly visible.

  • The usual little mirages appear all the time in the hot season over paved roads.
  • The most elaborate, and therefore the rarest mirage, is the moving Fata Morgana.
  • In August 1894, thousands of people in Buffalo, New York, reported a colorful mirage on Lake Ontario. It looked like Toronto, Charlotte, and Rochester. The morgan’s veil was caused by severe temperature fluctuations that distorted the light beams. In addition, the lack of wind caused the mirage to be seen at a great distance. It was so clear that eyewitnesses could clearly see a sailboat and the spires of churches. Over 20,000 people on the shores of Lake Ontario witnessed the mirage.
  • In ancient Egypt, people believed mirages were the ghosts of long-vanished objects and places.
  • The brightest, clearest and most detailed mirages are observed mainly in the northern United States, in Alaska.
  • The legend of the Flying Dutchman has existed since the 17th century. It tells of a ship that sank because of a terrible storm, and the entire crew perished. Later, the Flying Dutchman referred to a ghost ship, controlled by the souls of dead sailors. An explanation for this phenomenon has now emerged. Lightning and water vapors create an illusion that makes a distant ship appear to float above the surface of the sea. This mirage usually appears on cold seas.