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Fata Morgana

In ancient stories Fata Morgana (also known as Morgan le Fay) was a fairy enchantress skilled in the art of changing shape. One story says she learned many of her skills from Merlin the Magician and lived in a castle under the sea.

She sometimes made her castle appear up in the air, luring seamen to what they thought was a safe harbor. Her name is therefore given to an optical illusion (or mirage) of solid, well-defined coastal features that appear where there are none. Distant objects are distorted and stretched vertically - or a flat shoreline may appear to have tall cliffs, columns, and pedestals.

Alternating warm and cold layers of air near the ground or water surface cause light to be bent towards the colder, denser air. The result can be a distorted light path and a strange image of a distant object that is, in fact, not there.

Early Arctic explorers often recorded islands or mountain ranges that did not exist - even going so far as to let them block their path (Sir John Ross being one example).

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Double-click any unlinked word DICTIONARY: Just "double-click" any unlinked word on this page for the definition from Merriam-Webster's Student Electronic Dictionary at Word Central.
Arctic Library ARCTIC LIBRARY & GLOSSARY: Check this section for an index of the rest of the things you really need to know about the Arctic.
All sorts of Arctic Maps ARCTIC MAPS & WEATHER REPORTS: Maps of the Northwest Passage, explorers' routes, iceberg sources, Nunavut, the Arctic by treeline, temperature...
Links to related sites. ARCTIC LINKS: Even more information! Links to sites related to the Arctic and "Iceberg: the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots".
A Guide to Arctic Sunrise and Sunset GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?

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