Mirages aren’t limited to deserts only; they often occur in the polar regions. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews

We’re all familiar with the concept of desert mirages, a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of the sky or distant objects. In the desert, what seems to be a faraway sheet of water on the land (a lower, “inferior mirage”) is often only the refraction of light from the sky by heated air.    

There are two other types of mirages, however. A “superior mirage,” more common in polar regions, occurs when the air below the line of sight is colder than the air above it. The light rays passing through this “temperature inversion” (since warm air above cold air is the opposite of the normal temperature gradient of the atmosphere) are bent down, and so the image appears above the true object, and thus the name superior.

The third type of mirage is a bit more complicated. Called a “Fata Morgana,” this version of a superior mirage may consist of multiple, vertically stacked images, which can resemble elaborate castles or dramatic cliffs.

Watch the short video below, uploaded on YouTube by 235FireFly. It captures a mysterious object that appeared to be hovering over an iceberg in Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland. Although a UFO sounds like a more exciting explanation, it turns out the camera captured a Fata Morgana in the flesh … I mean, air.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,