Fata Morgana


One of the most exciting visual effects of the natural world is a mirage. They can be fascinating, if disheartening to explorers, and here on station, they make the mountains dance. Fata Morgana is a type of mirage that requires a rare combination of conditions that are found fairly regularly between McMurdo Station, and the mountain ranges across the ice shelf.

Notice the tail on the plane? A little funny looking? The waves in the horizon line? The mirage changes quickly and dramatically. Sometimes it can double or even quadruple images which can cause small rocks miles off to looking like posts in the middle of the ice or make the shore look like monstrous cliffs.

The mirage forms due to a bending of light through a duct of air sandwiched between a low hot air mass and much colder air mass on the ground level. The light can even bend so much that objects can been seen that would normally be out of sight due to the curvature of the earth.


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