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    Re: Etymology of "loom"?
    From: John Huth
    Date: 2009 Sep 11, 07:55 -0400
    Frank -

    As usual, your thoroughness overwhelms me.  I was associating "looming" with objects over the horizon made visible through scattered light, and was vaguely aware of the refraction reference, which I guess does double duty on the horizon issue.

    Scoresby's third paragraph seems to describe the atmospheric phenomenon presently known as "fata morgana", from the tale of King Arthur, I believe - fairy castles in the air and all that.  I once encountered a similar phenomenon kayaking out of Jonesport, Maine.  I believe it was in late July or early August.   Normally, that area is fog shrouded, because the water temperature is quite cold - in the low 50's (F), and the air temperature is relatively high - 80's to even 90's (F).

    We saw a large number of distortions - vessels en route to what I assume was Machias Port, East Port or Calais (ME), where the images of their hulls were highly distorted and elongated.  There was an island that I reckoned to be maybe 8 miles away, yet the branches on trees were plainly visible.   We saw a column that had the appearance of a lighthouse, yet there was absolutely nothing on the map in that direction that would correspond to a lighthouse.  

    I've also seen this once in a distorted image of Monomoy Island, off of Cape Cod.   From my normal vantage point (8 miles away), Monomoy appears to be broken up into a series of small islands (it's really continuous, but it's right on the margin of visibility on the horizon).   Again, at a time when the water temperature was quite cold, and the air temperature was high and visibility was good, I saw a fata morgana of Monomoy.   The islets had a mirror image above them and what appeared to be thin columns connecting the upright and the inverted images.  The regularity of the upright and inverted images and the connecting "columns" definitely gives the impression of a castle or some man-made structure.     

     John H.

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