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Word of the Day
Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Definitions for Fata Morgana

  1. Meteorology. a mirage consisting of multiple images, as of cliffs and buildings, that are distorted and magnified to resemble elaborate castles, often seen near the Straits of Messina.

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Citations for Fata Morgana
Under some conditions, refraction can even turn things upside down. When a warmer layer of air sits above a cooler layer it can bend light so strongly around the curvature of Earth that it creates a type of mirage called a Fata Morgana. In the Arctic, this can lead to an apparent wall of ice rising before an explorer. Stephen Battersby, "Pole Position," New Scientist, December 20, 2014
Ross had seen a mirage or fata morgana, named after Morgan le Fay, the legendary half-sister of King Arthur who could fly and change shape. They are created by layers of cold and warm air which bend light from sights in the far distance, making them appear distorted into what looks like mountains and castles. Paul Simons, "Castles in the sky or Arctic mirage," The Times, December 24, 2005
Origin of Fata Morgana
1810-1820
Fata Morgana comes from the name of a figure from Arthurian legend, Morgan le Fay, the fairy sister of King Arthur who was associated in literature with magical castles. The term entered English in the early 1800s.