When the days are clear and cold

photo by Greg Lincoln

by Greg Lincoln

Greetings friends. There is a phenomenon that occurs right here in our homeland when the days are clear and cold. It is when things in the distance such as the Kilbuck Mountains or the Kusilvak Mountains look enlarged and elevated, sometimes distorted and mysterious-looking, like a mirage.

It is an amazing sight to see from here in Bethel. In the science world, this is known as Fata Morgana.

Fata Morgana can occur on land or at sea. It is also known to happen in polar regions, which we are a part of due to where we live. As native people, how did we end up living where we live now? We have always lived here as far as memory and history have been in existence.

Imagine our ancestors seeing the same mirages that we see. I wonder what they thought of it all.

So how does Fata Morgana happen? It has to do with temperature. For it to be formed, there has to be thermal inversion meaning that warmer air is above colder air. Usually the higher in altitude you go, the colder it gets.

It also has to do with the curvature of the earth and light rays.

You can see this phenomenon with the naked eye, but it helps to see it better if you have binoculars or a telescope. Nature photographers have captured the images with their powerful telephoto lenses.

The images created by Fata Morgana seem to look like ethereal monuments, kind of eerie and mysterious with towering colonnades and pinnacles that shift and change. There’s mirages that look like castles and towers and even Roman aqueducts.

It makes you feel like you are somewhere else when you look at them. There are some famous spots around the globe known for this very thing.

Explorers throughout history have come across Fata Morgana, thinking them to be new lands to discover, but were mistaken.

You may have seen this before and have your own stories and memories and experiences. Can you recall the last time you saw one?

This month is a busy time for us with birthdays and an anniversary and other community events. Quyana to all of you for your well-wishes and friendship as we reached these momentous milestones.