Superior mirage and the Californian

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Mila

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However, if he did not hear a bang from any of them, how could he be sure they were so?
Jim, But Beesley, who could have been farther away, did hear the sound.

The only explanation can be that Carpathia was indeed firing old fashioned rockets which did not make an explosive sound at maximum trajectory. if so, these rockets would have risen to a height of about 300 feet above sea level.
Or that for one reason or another the survivors only saw the flash at the base and not rockets exploding into stars.
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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Or that for one reason or another the survivors only saw the flash at the base and not rockets exploding into stars.
I find that very difficult to believe Mila. By the way,

As far as relating the bang to the flash of a bursting shell, keep in mind that the report would be heard almost a full minute after the flash if the vessel was 10 miles away. Even at 5 miles, it would be about a 1/2 minute delayed.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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The 12 ordinary rockets carried on Titanic were probably ones that threw out two green stars because White Star's night identification signal when off the Irish coast was two green flares, a rocket throwing green stars and two more green flares. If needed, they could also be used as signals of distress at night because the rules at the time specified rockets or shells throwing stars of any color.
Cunard carried company rockets that burst into golden stars as part of their night signals inventory. Their balls from their Roman candles were restricted to heights of less that 150ft.
 
M

Mila

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I find that very difficult to believe Mila. By the way,

As far as relating the bang to the flash of a bursting shell, keep in mind that the report would be heard almost a full minute after the flash if the vessel was 10 miles away. Even at 5 miles, it would be about a 1/2 minute delayed.
Hi Sam,
I agree it might be hard to believe, yet I am not aware about any testimony that clearly stated that the rockets were exploding in stars.
Yes, Boxhall and Lightoller said they were ordinary distress rockets, and Lightoller even responded “yes”, when asked about stars

14854. Do you know what sort?
- The ordinary distress signals, the same as we were using.

14855. With stars?
- Yes.

However, it is unclear if he really saw the stars or simply assumed there should have been stars after he was asked about stars.

The sound was delayed as Beesley wrote in his book

About 3.30 a.m.,
as nearly as I can judge, some one in the bow
called our attention to a faint far-away gleam
in the southeast. We all turned quickly to
look and there it was certainly : streaming up
from behind the horizon like a distant flash
of a warship's searchlight; then a faint boom
like guns afar off, and the light died away
again.

Once again, Sam, if the rockets did explode into stars why Beesley describes one as a search light? Why Stengel describes it as a flashlight? Why Gibson and Stone describe it as a flash? Why the vast majority of people did not see them at all?
Remember Stengel saw the masthead lights at the same time he saw the rocket. At such distance a rocket should have been more spectacular than just a flashlight, and once again he saw powder, that could have only came from the base, or you disagree with this?
 

Jim Currie

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Beesley wrote a whole lot of things, Mila... many of them fanciful to say the least. I think you trying too hard to make the evidence fit.
If, as you suggest, Beesley saw the base flash at 3-30 pm, then he was seeing it no more than 8 miles away. This means that Carpathia's sidelights and masthead lights would have to have been visible at that time. Not according to Beesley who wrote:
"And then, creeping over the edge of the sea where the flash had been, we saw a single light, and presently a second below it, and in a few minutes they were well above the horizon and they remained in line! "
 
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Mila

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Beesley wrote a whole lot of things, Mila... many of them fanciful to say the least. I think you trying too hard to make the evidence fit.
If, as you suggest, Beesley saw the base flash at 3-30 pm, then he was seeing it no more than 8 miles away. This means that Carpathia's sidelights and masthead lights would have to have been visible at that time. Not according to Beesley who wrote:
"And then, creeping over the edge of the sea where the flash had been, we saw a single light, and presently a second below it, and in a few minutes they were well above the horizon and they remained in line! "
Jim, as we have discussed earlier the visibility of the light depends not only of them being above the horizon, but also on their luminocity. Besides Stengel testified he saw the masthead lights at the same time he saw the rockets.
It was toward morning that we turned, and by that time another man and myself thought we saw rockets - one rocket; that is, a rocket explode - and I said, "I think I saw a rocket," and another one said, "I think I saw a rocket," and one of the stokers, I think it was, said, "I see two lights. I believe that is a vessel." Then, after that, when another green light was burned, there was a flash light from a boat, and I said, "Now, I am pretty positive that is a boat, because that is an answer to the green signal," and one of the stokers said, "The green light is the company's color," I understood him to say. That is what he said. Whether he was right or not, I do not know. When we saw that flashlight, it was like powder was set off.
And that “powder” could have been only seen on the base, is it not?
 

Jim Currie

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Pr
The 12 ordinary rockets carried on Titanic were probably ones that threw out two green stars because White Star's night identification signal when off the Irish coast was two green flares, a rocket throwing green stars and two more green flares. If needed, they could also be used as signals of distress at night because the rules at the time specified rockets or shells throwing stars of any color.
Cunard carried company rockets that burst into golden stars as part of their night signals inventory. Their balls from their Roman candles were restricted to heights of less that 150ft.
The rockets carried by Titanic are listed under
"Detailed Description
Life-saving Appliances"

Coastal signals are not signals of distress. Besides, the socket signals were not carried as a substitute for conventional rockets but in lieu of guns, and were intended to be used within hearing range.
Apart from anything else, if those on Californian saw the same thing as those in lifeboats, then those on Californian would also have had Carpathia's sidelights and masthead lights in full view.

Jim,

Let’s assume that Marengo were only 40 something miles south of the wreck site at the exact time of the collision and the sinking. Let’s further assume that Marengo recorded “much refraction” at that very time. Would this fact meant that there was super refraction at the wreck side? Would you please elaborate your response?

Thanks.
No, Mila. Because super refraction is a term used in association with electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere. I quote: "An abnormally rapid decrease in the refractive index with height in the atmosphere, leading to anomalous propagation of radio waves, generally marked by an increase in their range."
There would most certainly have been "much refraction" but only the receipt of wireless traffic from well outside the range of the wireless equipment would verify the "super" version.

As for haze or any abnormalities in the immediate area of the disaster? I hand you over to our friend Beesley:

" First of all, the climatic conditions were extraordinary. The night was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen: the sky without a single cloud to mar the perfect brilliance of the stars, clustered so thickly together that in places there seemed almost more dazzling points of light set in the black sky than background of sky itself; and each star seemed, in the keen atmosphere, free from any haze, to have increased its brilliance tenfold and to twinkle and glitter with a staccato flash that made the sky seem nothing but a setting made for them in which to display their wonder. They seemed so near, and their light so much more intense than ever before.....The complete absence of haze produced a phenomenon I had never seen before: where the sky met the sea the line was as clear and definite as the edge of a knife, so that the water and the air never merged gradually into each other and blended to a softened rounded horizon, but each element was so exclusively separate that where a star came low down in the sky near the clear-cut edge of the waterline, it still lost none of its brilliance. As the earth revolved and the water edge came up and covered partially the star, as it were, it simply cut the star in two, the upper half continuing to sparkle as long as it was not entirely hidden, and throwing a long beam of light along the sea to us."

Then there is this "plum"..............

"Almost immediately after leaving the Titanic we saw what we all said was a ship's lights down on the horizon on the Titanic's port side: two lights, one above the other, and plainly not one of our boats; we even rowed in that direction for some time, but the lights drew away and disappeared below the horizon."

Now what vessel do you, or anyone else reading this, think that was?
It certainly was not the SS Californian because she was stopped and showing a red light and two white lights if she was any nearer than 11 miles away
 
M

Mila

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Hi Jim,
as you have probably heard I believe that Californian could have drifted in a mesoscale eddy. The boat Beesley was in could have drifted in another mesoscale eddy. This would have made the Beesley’s observations entirely possible.
 

Jim Currie

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I think you should shelve the idea of such an eddy, Mila. Here is why.
if you and others believe that the ship seen by those on the Californian was the sinking Titanic, and that somehow, Californian was caught up in an unusual current, then the latter would have moved relative to the other and the bearing between them would have changed...it did not. In fact, it did not change until the time the rockets were seen by Stone.

As I have repeated ad nauseum...Titanic did not point northward. The plot bears this out. Here it is derived from the evidence.

Radar Plot Heading NW 1'2 Neet.jpg


The above is what the situation would have looked like had Titanic been using RADAR. It is what is termed a "Head-up" display. this simply means that the 360-degree mark represents the direction in which Titanic was pointing during the sighting by Boxhall. on it, have plotted the evidence of Boxhall and QM Rowe relative to the sighting of the lights ahead of Titanic.
As you can see, in the above plot, Titanic was heading just to the right of NW. I have also plotted the ice barrier according to the evidence of Captain Rostron of the Carpathia.
This next plot is with Titanic heading due West. (remember that the display is head-up)
Radar Plot 2.jpg

Now you tell me, what is the more likely scenario?

Incidentally, if the eastern edge of the pack ice was trending NW from Titanic, and she had been heading about NW, then, Californian could not have stopped more than 12.5 miles away from her.
 
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Mila

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Hi Jim,
First of all mesoscale eddies in this region are rather usual currents.
Now, below are parts of Lord's testimony:

6779. Could you tell her bearing at all?
- Well, I have heard it since. I heard what it was at midnight - S.S.E. from us by compass.

6780. That was at midnight?
- Yes.
[...]
6788. A little later did he whistle down the tube and tell you she was altering her bearings?
- A quarter-past 1.

6789. Did he say how she was altering her bearings?
- Towards the S.W.

And here is a part from the testimony of Stone:

7922. Well, anything else?
- But that I could not understand why if the rockets came from a steamer beyond this one, when the steamer altered her bearing the rockets should also alter their bearings.

So as you see, Jim, Titanic (the steamer that was firing rockets) did changed her bearings and the rockets did too, and we really cannot tell when and how often she did because we do not know when and how often Stone checked on Titanic's bearings using the compass. He knew he was watching the same steamer, and therefore he had no reason to check on her bearings all the time.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Stone was a liar. He claimed he saw the stern light of the vessel since 1am until she disappeared. (BI 8100). You can't have a stern light showing while the red sidelight was showing, and the red light didn't disappear until after the 7th rocket went up. Besides, Gibson was also asked he ever saw a stern light, or the ship turn around, said No to both. I also don't believe a word from Stone about rockets going only as high as 1/2 the mast head light. It would have been obvious to both he and Gibson that they were not from that vessel. The steamer did not alter its magnetic bearing from Californian despite everything that Stone claimed.

As far as the words of Stengel and others, they said what they said about what they saw. You can't go back and ask them to explain what the meant. Notice that Lightoller never said a word about stars from Carpathia's rockets until specifically asked if they had stars. If someone could see the flash from the socket on deck then then had to see the flash higher up which according to most was enough to light up the entire deck below.

but the lights drew away and disappeared below the horizon
Drew away, or were they shut out? Taken literally, Beelsey's description is a vessel steaming away by going in reverse.
 

Jim Currie

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You are flogging a dead horse here, Mila. Please do not include me in the all-encompassing "we".

If a captain tells his officer to watch another vessel, the officer in question does as he is told, and watches her with the compass at very regular intervals. It is standard practice.

Mila, the vessel Stone was watching traveled a distance of at least 7 miles in 1 hour. it was not the Titanic.
 
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Mila

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Stone was a liar. He claimed he saw the stern light of the vessel since 1am until she disappeared. (BI 8100). You can't have a stern light showing while the red sidelight was showing,
Sam, I have just reread Stone’s testimony and I did not find the place in which he says he saw the stern light together with the red sidelight since 1 am. Could you please quote the testimony you meant?
As far as the words of Stengel and others, they said what they said about what they saw. You can't go back and ask them to explain what the meant. Notice that Lightoller never said a word about stars from Carpathia's rockets until specifically asked if they had stars.
Right, and it is why I am talking about that powder. Nobody asked Stengel if he saw powder. He said it himself, which means that if he did see the stars he probably would have said it too. On the other hand Lightoller response was kind of predicted by the person who questioned him about the stars, once again sit is called “leading a witness”.
 

Jim Currie

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Stone was a liar. He claimed he saw the stern light of the vessel since 1am until she disappeared. (BI 8100). You can't have a stern light showing while the red sidelight was showing, and the red light didn't disappear until after the 7th rocket went up. Besides, Gibson was also asked he ever saw a stern light, or the ship turn around, said No to both. I also don't believe a word from Stone about rockets going only as high as 1/2 the mast head light. It would have been obvious to both he and Gibson that they were not from that vessel. The steamer did not alter its magnetic bearing from Californian despite everything that Stone claimed.

As far as the words of Stengel and others, they said what they said about what they saw. You can't go back and ask them to explain what the meant. Notice that Lightoller never said a word about stars from Carpathia's rockets until specifically asked if they had stars. If someone could see the flash from the socket on deck then then had to see the flash higher up which according to most was enough to light up the entire deck below.


Drew away, or were they shut out? Taken literally, Beelsey's description is a vessel steaming away by going in reverse.
You don't believe Stone or Gibson because their evidence does not agree with your pre-conceived ideas. I have to say it, Sam...nonsense! You cannot claim "The steamer did not alter its magnetic bearing from Californian despite everything that Stone claimed." How on earth do you know that? You were not there. Nor could you never have witnessed what Stone was describing. Otherwise, you would not make such an outrageous claim. Here are his words yet again:
"The other steamer meanwhile had shut in her red side light and showed us her stern light and her masthead's glow was just visible."
For your information, if that vessel was bearing SSE at that moment, then she was heading in the direction of East and beginning to show her port quarter to the observers. as she continued to turn, her stern would more and more point directly at the observers. Eventually, she would present her starboard quarter. If she continued to turn right, her green light would eventually show. It did not. instead, she moved away without showing any of her coloured lights. Pure classic exam room question. forgive the following rough sketch:
nearby vessel.jpg
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Mila, I never said that Stone said he saw a stern light and a red sidelight at the same time. My point was that Gibon saw the red light until after the seventh rocket went up. Yet, Stone claimed that he saw the stern light since about 1am, for more than an hour, before Gibson arrived back on deck. If that vessel was showing a stern light since 1am it couldn't have shown a red light when Gibson arrived. So who do you think is telling the truth here?
He said it himself, which means that if he did see the stars he probably would have said it too.
That logic does not follow. Stengle's reference to powder was an analogy to the flash made by the flash power used with flash photography in those days. The flash of the shell bursting above was much brighter than the flash coming out of the socket on the rail. You could never miss it.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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How on earth do you know that? You were not there. Nor could you never have witnessed what Stone was describing. Otherwise, you would not make such an outrageous claim.
Because of Stone's own words: "But that I could not understand why if the rockets came from a steamer beyond this one, when the steamer altered her bearing the rockets should also alter their bearings." He said it, not I. He couldn't understand it because the steamer was not altering her magnetic bearings. It was the change in relative bearing that got him confused as to what was happening.
 
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Mila

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That logic does not follow. Stengle's reference to powder was an analogy to the flash made by the flash power used with flash photography in those days. The flash of the shell bursting above was much brighter than the flash coming out of the socket on the rail. You could never miss it.
Most people apperantly did miss it. The question is why.

Sam, these sockets signals had powder in two places. Isn’t this reasonable to assume that Stengel saw that powder?
 
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Aaron_2016

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I think people are over complicating what happened with the Titanic and Californian sightings of each other. I see it all as a familiar case of inferior refraction.

What did the witnesses see? A light getting bigger which created the false impression it was a ship getting closer and then it gets smaller and then bigger again. (inferior refraction does that).

Mr. Crawford
"Sometimes she seemed to get closer; other times she seemed to be getting away from us......we could not seem to make any headway."

The light also rises high up. Gibson saw all of her lights rising up together including her masthead light and port light rising up. Inferior refraction does that. The light will also rise up so high that it doubles into two lights (one above the other).

Mr. Beesley:
"We saw what we all said was a ship's lights down on the horizon on the Titanic's port side. Two lights, one above the other, and plainly not one of our boats"

The light also intensifies and becomes a non-distinct hazy glare which makes it hard to focus on.

Major Peuchen - "It was a glare. It was not a distinct light, it was a glare."

Mr. Stengel - "We followed a light that was to the bow of the boat, which looked like in the winter, in the dead of winter, when the windows are frosted with a light coming through them. It was in a haze."

The light also remains stationary the entire time well beyond the horizon, so a ship that is 20 miles away will appear to be 5 miles away and it will baffle the people who will try to row towards it because the light will not get any bigger if they row 5 miles towards it because it is really much further away.

Mr. Fleet - "We pulled for it, but we did not seem to get any nearer to it."

Mr. Rowe - "We did not seem to get nearer to it."

Mrs. White - "It was evidently impossible to reach it.....We made no headway toward it at all."

Mr. Hichens - "We did not get any nearer the light."

Mr. Crawford - "We did not seem to be making any headway at all, sir."

Inferior refraction will also be limited to the vessel on the surface and will not affect a rocket bursting above the affected layer of atmosphere, so a rocket will be observed to burst at its correct height from afar, but the vessel will be greatly affected by inferior refraction and rise up onto a seemingly second horizon, thus giving the false impression that the rocket is bursting close to the ship's masthead light.

Californian - 2nd officer Stone.
"These rockets did not appear to go very high; they were very low lying; they were only about half the height of the steamer’s masthead light and I thought rockets would go higher than that."

So it is quite easy to understand what each witness was describing. I see it all the time, and in my experience it is a pretty common sighting when a ship that is far away is magnified and doubled up.

refraction1a.png


Easy to understand why Stone witnessed her rockets explode close to the ship's masthead light.

refraction12.png


and why they saw her lights rising up (masthead and port light) and why there were no sounds at all coming from her, because she was significantly further away. The survivors experienced the same refraction as they looked at the Californian's light double up and get bigger and smaller and turn into a non-distinct bright glare, and then as dawn approached and the wind picked up the inferior refraction subsided and the Californian reverted back to her original appearance and distance which created the impression she had suddenly disappeared as daylight broke. Everything that I have read fits perfectly with inferior refraction taking place.
 
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