Fata Morgana effect

optical illusions

We know that nature still has thousands of mysteries to solve. Even more there are mysteries when they come from the sea. Some places in the world have a natural beauty that is added to an optical illusion that comes to surprise all the people who visit it. Today we are going to talk about Fata Morgana effect. This effect appears on some coasts and has left everyone who has been able to visualize it speechless.

In this article we are going to tell you what the Fata Morgana effect is and why it occurs.

What is the fata Morgana effect

fata morgana effect from the coast

The name of this effect comes from the legend of King Arthur. It is a classic character in European literature. King Arthur had a half-sister who was a sorceress whose ability was to change her appearance. The stepsister was known as the name of Morgana le Fay, Morgane, Morganna, Morgaine and other names. Whatever name it is, she is known as a magician or sorceress who has magical powers.

This effect is about a strange optical illusion that is linked to the coasts of Barcelona, ​​Norway, New Zealand and, mainly, the Strait of Messina, the area of ​​southern Italy, between Calabria and Sicily. Magical properties are attributed to this effect since it can be manifested in various forms. Fata Morgana effect has been found with flying ships, floating cities, cliffs, icebergs, fictional mountains or buildings that are closer to the world of fantasy than reality.

There are many people who point out that you lived optical illusions like those mentioned on all the coasts. Social networks have been filled with incredible images about the fata Morgana effect. Who does not know what this effect is about, they believe they have discovered a wonder. In numerous stories Morgana is a disciple of the magician Merlin. He is a fictional character although in some works he appears as his rival. In order to bewitch him, Morgana is in charge of seducing him to transform his own appearance as with Arturo.

Just as Morgana was capable of transforming her appearance and deceiving Arturo and Merlin, the images seen from the coast are equally deceptive and that is why she has been associated with this name.

Why the fata Morgana effect occurs

floating island

Let's see what are the real reasons why this effect occurs. When the rays of light that come from the sun originally come straight, they pass through the atmosphere and all surrounding air masses. When they encounter somewhat denser air masses, they begin to deviate from their trajectory and become curved. The phenomenon of deviation of light rays is known by the name of refraction. It is the refraction that generates certain visual effects.

Surely you have ever been traveling by car on a hot day and have seen in the distance on a road as if there was water. As you get closer, you realize that it is only a visual effect. One of the factors that directly affect the direction of the sun's rays is the temperature of the air layer. The layer of air that passes through the sun's rays is denser the colder it is. The mirage occurs when the sun's ray first passes through a layer of dense air with a low temperature that is usually in the uppermost layer of the atmosphere and water reaches a layer of higher temperature that is the lower part and that is less dense. When this happens, mirages occur and when they occur on the coast, they are called the fata Morgana effect.

All mirages are phenomena associated with the propagation of light in media that are not homogeneous. The refractive index varies with height and with the amount of light we receive from the sun. The trajectory of the curves depends on the density of the water and the intensity of the sun's rays. Said curves have a concavity in the direction of increase of the refractive index. That is, the light is always going to bend towards the medium that has a higher refractive index. This medium can be water or air.

Training conditions

fata morgana effect

There are some conditions for the fata Morgana effect to be generated. First of all, there must be a thermal inversion between the layers closest to the ground or water. Thermal inversion is that in which there is a layer of cooler air on the surface than at altitude. It is the complete opposite of common environmental conditions. Said conditions are those in which we have a decrease in temperature in height. That is, as we increase in altitude we decrease the temperature. In a thermal inversion, the opposite, as we go up in altitude, the temperature increases.

When the light finally reaches the surface, the actual position of the object is subject to human interpretation. And it is that the formation of the image is conditioned by the refraction of light. This refraction is what is responsible for altering the image. Thus, Not all optical illusions of the Fata Morgana effect look the same. There are people who distinguish some forms in the illusion and other people distinguish others.

The place where you can enjoy this effect most often is in Barcelona. In fact, many people get up at dawn to go see the beautiful images that this effect offers. And it is that there are many mornings where there are the appropriate environmental conditions of thermal inversion for the generation of the fata Morgana effect. More and more is being said about the floating cities that are reflected with these illusions. Although it is only a reflection of a mirage, it can always surprise the human being with the imagination of the existence of floating cities and of something magical.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about what the fata Morgana effect is and how it occurs.


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