Optical illusion turns Alaskan island into ‘flying saucer’ that appears to be hovering above water


Amazing video footage has emerged that shows what looks like a flying saucer hovering above the water in a bay in Alaska.

But the saucer is actually an island, made to look like it’s floating by a trick of the light.

The clip was filmed from a boat in Glacier Bay and posted to the Facebook page of the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

Amazing video footage has emerged that shows what looks like a flying saucer hovering above the water in a bay in Alaska 

It explained that the footage shows the ‘Fata Morgana’ effect distorting Lone Island in the mid-bay area of the park, which spans 3.3million acres of snowcapped mountains, sheltered fjords, glaciers and rainforests.

In the Facebook post, Glacier Bay staff wrote: ‘Have you witnessed this mirage while in #GlacierBay? Fata Morgana is a mirage seen within a narrow band on Earth’s horizon.

‘Islands in glacier bay turn to UFOs or the flying Dutchman with a little imagination and a pinch of cool science!’

The clip was filmed from a boat in Glacier Bay, showing the 'Fata Morgana' effect distorting Lone Island

The clip was filmed from a boat in Glacier Bay, showing the ‘Fata Morgana’ effect distorting Lone Island

‘Fata’ is Latin for ‘fairy’ and Morgana is the sorceress from the legend of King Arthur, with ‘Fata Morgana’ encapsulating the idea that witchcraft created mirages to lure sailors to their death.

The phenomenon creates a mirage when the sun heats up the atmosphere above the land or the sea, creating a gradient of temperatures.

When a layer of warm air sits on top of a layer of cold air, a lens effect is created, with light bending as it passes through gaps in air currents.

This can make objects seem like they’re occupying an elevated position, as the light is entering the brain from above rather than straight ahead. We can’t detect light ‘bending’.

The Glacier Bay footage impressed Facebook users, though a couple suggested the video was a ‘fake’ or a ‘joke’ – claims Glacier Bay staff were quick to dispel.

When a layer of warm air sits on top of a layer of cold air, a lens effect is created, with light bending as it passes through gaps in air currents

When a layer of warm air sits on top of a layer of cold air, a lens effect is created, with light bending as it passes through gaps in air currents

In June, three cruise ships, pictured, were seen apparently floating off the coast of the southern city of Limassol, Cyprus

In June, three cruise ships, pictured, were seen apparently floating off the coast of the southern city of Limassol, Cyprus

To one user, they replied: ‘ We don’t waste time creating “fake” imagery to share of our National Park. It’s real, and everyone on the boat that day could attest to it. Enjoy a cool phenomenon of nature!’

And in response to another, they explained: ‘Fata Morgana mirages have been documented for centuries, and this mirage, in particular, is likely what inspired the sailor’s tale of the “Flying Dutchman”, which appeared to sailors as a flying ship just above the surface of the water.’

A haunting maritime legend, the Flying Dutchman is a ghostly floating ship that sailors believed to be a harbinger of doom when sighted on the horizon.

A coastal snapshot showed several liners that looked like they were hovering above the sea in Paignton, Devon

A coastal snapshot showed several liners that looked like they were hovering above the sea in Paignton, Devon

WHAT IS A FATA MORGANA? 

A Fata Morgana is a type of mirage that distorts distant objects, and can be can be seen on land or sea.

‘Fata’ is Latin for ‘fairy’ and Morgana is the sorceress from the legend of King Arthur, with ‘Fata Morgana’ encapsulating the idea that witchcraft created mirages to lure sailors to their death. 

It’s caused when the sun heats up the atmosphere above the land or oceans, which creates a gradient of temperatures.

The air close to the surface is relatively cool and above that are layers of warmer air.

When light hits a boundary between two layers of the atmosphere that are different temperatures – and as a result different densities – it bends and travels at a different angle.

Our brain assumes that light travels in a straight paths, so when it bends, we think the object is where it would be if the light’s path runs straight.

A Fata Morgana mirage never fails to stun those who lay eyes on it.

In June of this year, locals in Cyprus hurried to take photos when they saw three cruise ships apparently levitating off the coast of the southern city of Limassol in a similar occurrence.

The spooky mirages have also occurred in the UK, with the captivating phenomenon sighted in Cornwall, Devon and Aberdeenshire earlier this year.

Earlier this year in Banff, Aberdeenshire, a health and safety worker captured a 'floating' ship

Earlier this year in Banff, Aberdeenshire, a health and safety worker captured a ‘floating’ ship

In March, a man out on a stroll in Gillan, Cornwall, witnessed Fata Morgana at work

In March, a man out on a stroll in Gillan, Cornwall, witnessed Fata Morgana at work 

In March, a picturesque coastal snapshot showed several liners that looked like they were flying above the sea in Paignton, Devon.

Just days previously, in Banff, Aberdeenshire, a health and safety worker spotted another ship that looked to be hovering and paused to capture a video of the bizarre sight.

And, that same month, a man out on a stroll in Gillan, Cornwall, spied a red liner seemingly floating in the sky above the water, only to learn he’d witnessed Fata Morgana at work.



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