Ship HOVERS off the coast of Kent as mind-bending optical illusion leaves witnesses stumped

THIS is the incredible moment a ship appears to hover off the coast of Kent today.

A large container ship and other vessels appeared to be floating in the sky in footage taken from Minster this morning.

The optical illusion shown in the video makes the vessel look as if it is floating above the water's surface.

The phenomenon – known as Fata Morgana – is created when the sun heats up the atmosphere above either the land or the sea.

A layer of warmer air sits on top of a layer of cold air, causing the light from the ship to bend and making colours blend together.  

For a Fata Morgana to appear, the atmospheric conditions have to be just right.

It starts with a cold air mass close to the ground or surface of the water that is topped by a warm layer of air higher in the atmosphere.

And although the phenomenon can occur on land, they are more common at sea because water helps to form the cool air layer required.

BBC meteorologist David Braine previously said the phenomenon is caused conditions in the atmosphere which bend light. 

"Superior mirages occur because of the weather condition known as a temperature inversion, where cold air lies close to the sea with warmer air above it," he said.

"Since cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of someone standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears."

The mirage takes its name from Morgan le Fay – a sorceress from Arthurian legend – said to use her witchcraft to lure unwitting sailors into her traps. 

The mirage is thought to be the reason for sightings of the Flying Dutchman, a 17th century "ghost ship" doomed to sail the seas forever.

Today's sighting comes after similar reports from the past couple of months.

The same thing happened in Minister in May, as well as a month before that in April.

And one man in Falmouth, Cornwall, was left "extremely baffled" just weeks before when he spotted a large vessel apparently floating just above the waves.

Days earlier, several cruise ships were also seen "hovering" above the waters off the coast of Paignton, Devon

Then Colin McCallum spotted a large red "floating vessel" on the horizon as he travelled through Banff, Aberdeenshire.

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