STRANGE SIGHTS AT NIGHT Some time ago it was suggested that seafarers who contribute to the forum might like to tell of the unusual sights to be seen at night, some of which may be relevant to the Titanic story. I am an inshore cruising yachtsman and my home waters are the South Australian coast between Adelaide and Ceduna, as well as the waters of Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf. Data from NASA shows that these waters are notable for exceptional darkness and great freedom from air pollution. This means that when well clear of the lights of Adelaide I experience conditions of visibility very close to those experienced by Titanic on the open ocean. West of Port Lincoln, a city of about 11,000 people, there is no town with more than a few hundred inhabitants and light pollution is effectively zero. In summer it is possible to see the Milky Way stretching from the northern horizon to the southern. I consider that these conditions give me a better than average appreciation of the difficulties facing Titanic’s crew. After careful study, I am not of the opinion that abnormal refraction played a part in the disaster or in the Californian affair. However, I have seen some examples of the phenomenon that may be of interest. It should be remembered that these cases all occurred in much higher temperatures than are experienced on the North Atlantic. Case 1. This is not super-refraction but may be connected with the famous “green flash” effect sometimes seen at sunset in the tropics. At about midnight I was entering Gulf St Vincent at its southwestern end, about five miles off the coast and steering about NE. Looking astern, I sighted a green light, very low down and to the SW. Logically a single green sidelight would indicate a sailing vessel passing astern and steering about NE towards a minor port nearby. I kept an eye on the light and slowly it turned into two lights which gradually turned white. More lights appeared over the horizon and it became obvious that a large ship was overtaking me and would pass some distance to starboard. I was eventually able to see her red sidelight with the aid of binoculars. The entire ship was brilliantly lit from stem to stern and may have been a live sheep transport, which are common here. The interesting thing, of course, was the change of colour. Case 2. I have often experienced examples of abnormal refraction by day and by night. It is common to see lights at twice their charted distance. Sometimes this happens early in the night and the lights disappear later as the air cools down. The most remarkable example occurred last November. I was steering about SSW from Adelaide toward Kangaroo Island. The night was warm and the wind was offshore. When about 35 miles from the island I was not surprised to sight the light on Point Marsden, which has a range of 16 miles. That was typical of what I expected. What followed was really weird. I trained my 7 X 50 glasses on the light and saw to the left of it two small flashing lights. These were clear enough to be timed. They proved to be two very small harbour lights at Kingscote. Their nominal range is 8 miles and they are on poles maybe 30 feet high. Refraction had brought them above the horizon and the light-gathering power of the glasses made them visible. I might add that I once nearly fell for the old trick of mistaking a planet for a ship’s light. I thought was seeing a steaming light on a fishing boat but I soon realised it was Venus. I am convinced that at least some of Titanic’s passengers made the same mistake. For some time the bright star Capella was setting about NW of the ship and may have been taken for a ship's sternlight.