For a long time, mirages remained a completely unexplored natural phenomenon. Because of their peculiarities, they entered the culture and folklore of many peoples, and most often mirages are presented in folk art as the intrigues of evil forces who want to confuse travelers. And indeed, they can easily deceive an inexperienced or simply careless traveler, and carry him somewhere far from his path. However, modern science has long understood the nature of mirages and thoroughly studied them, although some points are still unclear.
Interesting facts about mirages
- Contrary to popular belief, observe mirages it is possible not only over a hot surface, but also over a cold one, since they arise due to the difference in temperatures of different layers of air. However, they still occur more often over hot places.
- The famous Fata Morgana is not a synonym for the word «mirage», but one of the varieties of this phenomenon.
- Mirages are not only in deserts. This phenomenon often occurs over seas, lakes and ice. Here are some of the most amazing mirages documented in history (interesting facts about deserts).
- According to a December 21, 1901, New York Times article, a group of fishermen saw the shadow of a large city on the horizon of the frozen Lake Erie. First, one of the fishermen saw this shadow and shared it with his friends. Then they also witnessed this strange phenomenon. In the shadows they saw a large city with hundreds of buildings and roads. The shadow became brighter and clearer, and they even saw the lights of buildings.
- Hot and cold mirages differ from each other in their properties. So, you can see an object located beyond the horizon line only if the mirage has arisen over a cold surface.
- From the point of view of science, a mirage is an optical phenomenon that occurs when light is cunningly reflected from layers of air that are heated to different temperatures and therefore have different densities.
- Surprisingly realistic mirages sometimes appear in water-saturated air, moreover at close distances. In rare cases, a person can even see a copy of himself nearby. It is not surprising that primitive people were scared to death by such phenomena (interesting facts about ancient people).
- In laboratory conditions, with the right equipment, it is not difficult to reproduce a mirage.
- September 27, 1846, the city of Edinburgh appeared in the clouds over Liverpool. The scene was witnessed by 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 an entire city in sky, were observed immediately by groups of people.
- Mirages are especially dangerous in the African desert of Erg er-Ravi. They most often appear as oases, which seem to be very close, but in reality the distance to them reaches hundreds of kilometers.
- Thousands of tourists and local residents witnessed a mirage in May 2005. This phenomenon lasted for four hours on the coast of the Chinese province of Shandong. Prior to that, it had rained for two days in the city. The rising fog created a mirage in the form of a city with modern buildings. Busy streets filled with cars and people were clearly visible.
- Ordinary small mirages constantly appear in the hot season over asphalt roads.
- The most difficult, and therefore the rarest mirage, is a moving fata morgana.
- In August 1894, thousands of people in Buffalo, New York reported a colorful mirage on Lake Ontario. It was like Toronto, Charlotte and Rochester. Fata Morgana was caused by extreme temperature fluctuations that distorted the light rays. In addition, the lack of wind led to the fact that the mirage was visible at a great distance. It was so clear that eyewitnesses could clearly see the sailboat and the spiers of the churches. Over 20,000 people on the shores of Lake Ontario have witnessed the mirage.
- In ancient Egypt, people believed that mirages were the ghosts of long-disappeared objects and places (interesting facts about Ancient Egypt).
- 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 speaks of a ship that sank due to a terrible storm, and the entire crew perished. Later, the flying Dutchman began to mean a ghost ship, controlled by the souls of dead sailors. There is now an explanation for this phenomenon. Lightning and water vapor create an illusion that makes it appear that a distant ship is hovering above the surface of the sea. Usually such a mirage appears in cold seas.