Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fata Morgana

A Fata Morgana is an unusual and very complex form of superior mirage which is observed in a narrow band near the horizon. Although the term Fata Morgana is sometimes incorrectly applied to other, more common kinds of mirages, the true Fata Morgana is not the same as an ordinary superior mirage, and is certainly not the same as an inferior mirage.

Fata Morgana mirages tremendously distort the object or objects which they are based on, such that the object often appears to be very unusual, and may even be transformed in such a way that it is completely unrecognizable. Fata Morgana can be seen on land or at sea, in polar regions or in deserts. This kind of mirage can involve almost any kind of distant object, including such things as boats, islands, and coastline.

The Italian name "Fata Morgana" is derived from the name of Morgan le Fay, who was alternately known as Morgane, Morgain, Morgana and other variants. Morgan le Fay was described as a powerful sorceress and antagonist of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in the Arthurian legend. As her name indicates, the figure of Morgan appears to have been originally a fairy (Le Fey) rather than a human woman. The early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate on her nature, other than describing her role as that of a fairy or magician. Later she was described as a woman, King Arthur's half-sister, and an enchantress.

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