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Bizarre Photo Shows Massive Ship 'Floating' in Air Above Greek Waters

Nontas Kalogiannis photographed a ship named Achilleas floating in the air because of an optical illusion called Fata Morgana.
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | 
Photo by Julia Volk
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Julia Volk

The image of a giant ship floating in the sky might shock many, but it is a common occurance in places with layers of air that have varying temperatures.

In a photo, Greek photographer Nontas Kalogiannis captured Achilleas, a massive freight ship, "floating" between Greece's mainland at Kimi and Skiros, one of the area's many islands, Daily Mail reported. 

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo byJeffrey Czum
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Jeffrey Czum

The photo showcases Achilleas seemingly floating in the air just some feet above the waters, according to Daily Mail. The ship could be seen "floating" in the picture because of an optical illusion called Fata Morgana. 

Stephen James O'Meara,  an expert on astronomy and volcano topics, explained that the phenomenon of Fata Morgana occurs when "light rays from distant objects travel across the interface between the cold and warm air layers in disparate curved paths to reach our eyes." He added, "Consequently, the light from these objects smears out vertically," Astronomy reported.

O'Meara noted that in this phenomenon, rays get "magnified, multiplied (with alternating erect and inverted components), and distorted."


O'Meara explained that the shape the observer sees depends on their position to the cold/warm air boundary, Astronomy reported. 

The phenomenon gets its name from Morgan Le Fay, a character from the Arthurian legends, Daily Mail reported. Morgan Le Fay was a sorceress, who conjured up images of fairy castles to lure sailors.

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A post shared by Νώντας Καλογιάννης (@kalogiannis_epam)


Generally, Fata Morgana results in pictures being inverted, but on particular occasions, the figure appears to be on the right side up, Daily Mail reported. This is what seems to have happened with the photograph of Achileas captured by Kalogiannis. 

This tendency of Fata Morgana to make figures appear on the right side up has been noted in some areas of Greece, Daily Mail reported. The particular optical illusion is not limited to water bodies but can also be seen with mountains.

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A post shared by Νώντας Καλογιάννης (@kalogiannis_epam)


Over the years, Kalogiannis has captured Fata Morgana illusions multiple times and shared the shots on social media. In one picture, a flying mountain appears to be hovering in the sky.

Fata Morgana has been noted in other places besides Greece, with boats appearing to hover off the coat of Britain in Cornwall, Devon, and Aberdeenshire in one instance, Daily Mail reported.

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