Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana, an optical phenomenon seen in the straits of Messina. The observer facing the sea of Reggio, standing at a fair elevation with his back to the sun, will see reflected from the smooth surface of the sea a multitude of clearly defined pilasters, towers, and castles, armies of men on foot and horse, and many other multiplied images of objects existent on shore. The phenomenon requires for its manifestation a calm surface of the sea, a full and swelling tide in the centre of the channel, and a certain altitude of the sun. Special conditions of the air above may cause the production of aerial images, and may fringe the objects with delicate edgings of the prismatic colours. Similar effects have been observed at Hastings; and on the great sandy plains of Persia, Tartary, Egypt, or Mexico, the mirage (q.v.) is well known. Fata in Italian = fairy; Morgana in Celtic legend is the sister of King Arthur,- an enchantress living in the island of Tir Tairngire, the land of perpetual day, though enveloped in a magic bank of cloud.