Superior mirage and the Californian

Mar 18, 2008
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Possibly I missed it but I can not see any explanation about what happened with Carpathia.
Carpathia also nearly collided with an iceberg when going towards emergency boat No. 2 and was sighted the last moment as on Titanic. Carpathia was able to avoid a collision. Others icebergs were seen this one not and several others come up when it became daylight. No report about a "refraction" or "mirage".

Sorry but it is only me who feel how strange it is that only the officers aboard the Marengo were the only ones to notice and report a mirage/reflection and officers of at last 3 ships which were Titanic, Carpathia and Californian had no idea what they were seeing or notice it?
In the morning of April 15th there were several other ships in the area which have come to aid as Mount Temple, Birma, Frankfurt etc. Did any one of them report the same as Marengo?
 
M

Mila

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I think "attack" and "debate" are being confused.
English is not my first language, but according to a dictinary
Attack is criticize or oppose fiercely and publicly
Debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.
So was the below attack or debate?
Mila, if you think the Marengo log book entries are totally irrelevant because of being too far from where and when Titanic sank, then just say so! Anything more becomes personal and beyond a simple disagreement and exchange of views.

(I've been through this countless times over 'The Californian Incident' but despite some very strong disagreements all my adversaries I count as friends).

Mila, your own position is not helped by your own work being subject to a payment to a Journal to access, whereas Tim's work is pretty much in the public arena.

If it is your aim to 'trash' Tim's work, then might I suggest you would do it from a better position if you made freely public your own work?[quote/]
 

Jim Currie

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The correction for pressure and temperature under non-standard conditions is not very much, just a few minutes of arc at most. I don't believe the words "much refraction" would have been entered into a log book just because conditions were not standard. But I do agree that much refraction does not mean that there was mirage conditions. It is also apparent that Marengo was nowhere near Titanic, and one cannot apply air/sea temperatures that were encountered in one place on a given date to another place and time.
The point is that Much refraction if not accounted for, will affect the Zenith distance which in turn will adversely affect the results of a Longitude by Chronometer sight.
 
M

Mila

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Possibly I missed it but I can not see any explanation about what happened with Carpathia.
Carpathia also nearly collided with an iceberg when going towards emergency boat No. 2 and was sighted the last moment as on Titanic. Carpathia was able to avoid a collision. Others icebergs were seen this one not and several others come up when it became daylight. No report about a "refraction" or "mirage".

Sorry but it is only me who feel how strange it is that only the officers aboard the Marengo were the only ones to notice and report a mirage/reflection and officers of at last 3 ships which were Titanic, Carpathia and Californian had no idea what they were seeing or notice it?
In the morning of April 15th there were several other ships in the area which have come to aid as Mount Temple, Birma, Frankfurt etc. Did any one of them report the same as Marengo?
Well , Ioannis, if you ask Tim he will tell you that Bisset from Carpathia mentioned a few times “peculiar visibility” and that for sure Bisset meant refraction. I am about 90% sure that Bisset had something else in mind, simply because there is no any confirmed observation of a nighttime mirage that does not involve a light source.
 

Rob Lawes

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English is not my first language, but according to a dictinary
Attack is criticize or oppose fiercely and publicly
Debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.
So was the below attack or debate?
In my personal opinion I believe it was a request for clarification. As with so many discussions on here, pride of authorship sometimes clouds judgement. It is important for the integrity of the debate that we remain open to discussion and accept alternative opinions will be raised.

I agree with you that the quoted position of the Marengo in the book under discussion is misleading and it is quite obvious when reviewing the times and positions Marengo was at her closest position to the wreck site around 12 hours after the sinking.

I also believe Ioannis has made an excellent point.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Here is food for thought. Captain Rostron saw Boxhall's green flare and said:

"At 2:40, I saw a flare, about half a point on the port bow, and immediately took it for granted that it was the Titanic itself, and I remarked that she must be still afloat, as I knew we were a long way off, and it seemed so high."

"It seemed so high" - Was refraction causing the green light to levitate and appear high above the horizon? - Similar to the refraction photos I presented earlier i.e. Scotland floating like a cloud above the horizon.

Survivor Edith Russell also saw Boxhall's green flare, but she thought it was coming from the "upper deck" of the Titanic. She said: "At 2:10, green rockets were fired from the upper deck. This was the last call for help and mercy." Is it possible that both Rostron and Russell were looking at the effects of refraction which caused Boxhall's green flare to appear much higher up? Similar to the heavy plume of smoke which Mr. Mock said looked like a mushroom cloud as it rose high into the sky and flattened out at the top "like a mushroom" while Colonel Gracie who was much closer saw a layer of smoke or vapour settle very low against the sea. Was that layer close to the surface affected the same way as Boxhall's light which made them appear much higher to those further away owing to the abnormal temperatures clashing in that area as the heavy ice field approached the Gulf stream, added with the abnormal effects of a massive ocean liner going down with hot water bubbling up to the surface as she went down? e.g. Lightoller - "Suddenly a terrific blast of hot air came up." Colonel Gracie - "The hot water that came up from the boilers might boil me up, and the second officer told me that he had the same feeling."


.
 
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Rob Lawes

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I don't know about the Carpathia observations but the Titanic green flares witnessed at 02:10 could almost certainly be the salt water activated Manwell Holmes Deck Flares going off when they were submerged. This would have required no crew involvement.
 
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Aaron_2016

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I don't know about the Carpathia observations but the Titanic green flares witnessed at 02:10 could almost certainly be the salt water activated Manwell Holmes Deck Flares going off when they were submerged. This would have required no crew involvement.

Thanks, but would the Manwell deck flares be green? Member Paul Slish posted this: "The two Manwell Holmes deck flares carried by Titanic as part of her complement of distress signals were to be used to simulate "Flames on the Vessel" to fulfil the second class of night distress signals."

I would imagine that green flares would not be a good choice to simulate flames on the vessel. Perhaps white, yellow, or red might have been more appropriate. Just before the Titanic went down Mr. Thayer looked back at her and said she appeared to stand out in a reddish glare as if she were ablaze and on fire. Perhaps a Manwell deck flare was igniting and creating a reddish glare on the deck, and Boxhall's green flare was the only green light showing?


Mr. Collins was on the forward boat deck and saw a green light towards her stern. He said:

"I looked back at her stern end and I saw a green light."
Q - What did you think it was, one of your own boats?
A - No, sir; I did not really think of what it was until the firemen and sailors came up and said that it was a boat.
Q - That is, a ship?
A - Yes, sir.
Q - What became of it?
A - Sir, it disappeared.
Q - How long was it visible?
A - About 20 minutes or half an hour, I am sure it was.
Q - How far away, would you think, from the Titanic?
A - I guess it would be about 4 miles; I am sure, 3 or 4 miles.



flare.png



Boxhall's boat was much closer to the Titanic than 3 or 4 miles. Miss Allen was in Boxhall's boat. She said - "When Boxhall lit his first light the screams grew louder and then died down." Perhaps Mr. Collins was seeing the effects of the refraction which elevated the horizon and made him think Boxhall's green flare was a ship "about 4 miles away" as it seemed so high up and much further away than it really was. Similar to Rostron's quote - "It seemed so high."



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M

Mila

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No matter what eyewitnesses describe Tim and Aaron interpret it as a sign of a super refraction.

For example, in his book Tim quotes Beesley

But it seemed almost as it we could – that night: the stars seemed really to be alive and to talk. 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

water-line, it still lost none if its brilliance. [my bolding]
Tim describes the above quote like this: "Beesley was describing a perfect thermal inversion."

Of course the presence of the haze is as a sign of a mirage too:

Furthermore, their descriptions of a slight haze on a clear night, which did not seem to reduce visibility, is consistent with the apparent haze seen when a superior mirage is in fact present and scattering light on the horizon.
Stone described low-lying Titanic rockets. Sure enough, it was due to a mirage.

Rostron describes high Boxhall’s green flare. It is because of mirage too.

I agree it was an unusual night with many strange sightings but we cannot atribute everything to a mirage.
I believe that we have already established that there was some kind of low mist.
Below is an image of GGB I took. See what mist does with lights?
Maybe something similar happened with Boxhall's green flare.
GGB.jpg
 
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Mila

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and therefore she could have been further north and even closer to the Titanic with the aid of the Gulf stream pushing them upwards towards the Titanic's track. e.g.
Or she might have been farther away...

However, what is more important is not how far away she was, but when she was at her closest approach.
I made one more map. It appears that she was on her closest approach not later than 2 pm and not at 4 pm as Tim said. Marengo loggs have notices of refraction for 8 am and 4 pm. There is nothing about refraction inr 12 pm log, which means that even, when Marengo was in the right place at the wrong time there's no evidence to confirm there was refraction there.
map.jpg
 
May 3, 2005
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No matter what eyewitnesses describe Tim and Aaron interpret it as a sign of a super refraction.

For example, in his book Tim quotes Beesley



Tim describes the above quote like this: "Beesley was describing a perfect thermal inversion."

Of course the presence of the haze is as a sign of a mirage too:



Stone described low-lying Titanic rockets. Sure enough, it was due to a mirage.

Rostron describes high Boxhall’s green flare. It is because of mirage too.

I agree it was an unusual night with many strange sightings but we cannot atribute everything to a mirage.
I believe that we have already established that there was some kind of low mist.
Below is an image of GGB I took. See what mist does with lights?
Maybe something similar happened with Boxhall's green flare.
View attachment 43209
Thanks,Mila -

Excellent photo !

Besides the "flare" of the lights on GGB due to the mist ....
In the background of buildings in San Francisco, there is one very bright "blob " of light ,
white-ish and much larger than the lights on other buildings .It is on the left side of the photo , about halfway down from the top. This may be something like what Rostron saw of Boxhall's flare.Just a guess, but on looking at your photo, this bright "blob" of light did stand out rather noticeably from the other SF lights.
 
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Mila

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Your idea of thermal inversion seems to only have worked in one direction, Tim. Otherwise, how do you explain the evidence given by Rostron that he saw Boxhall's green flares when Carpathia was still 20 miles southeast of Boxhall and the survivors in Boat 2, yet the same green lights were never seen by anyone, including a lookout, on a ship which, according to you, was only 10 miles away?
Sorry to disappoint you, Jim, :) but I could think of at least one explanation: there were icebergs between the boat and the Californian that prevented Stone and Gibson from seeing the green flare. BTW what lookout do you mean? I thought that there was no lookout on Californian.
If, according to Bisset, Californian was stopped 10 miles to the northward of Boxhall, how was it that they all (including Bisset) saw Boxhall's green flares but failed to see a stopped ship 10 miles to the northward of him at 4 am?
This one is also easily explained. First of all they were very busy, trying to avoid colliding with the icebergs and hitting the boats. Of course the sky contions mattered too. It was twilight at 4 am, which means that the Californian’s lights were not as bright and maybe she was showing her stern light, the same situation as when the Titanic was approaching. On the other hand it was still dark enough at 4 am. to see her silhouette.
 
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Mar 18, 2008
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The mirage/reflection seems to be coming and going and be limited only for "special" parts as the iceberg Titanic hit, Californian and green light. Sorry for me that sounds now ridiculous.

As for Rostron seeing a green light about 2:45 a.m. believing it was the Titanic still afloat there are reports from Carpathia passengers who mentioned to have seen a blue light some say about 2:45 a.m. others 3 a.m. and 3:15 a.m.
As I wrote in the last part of my lifeboat series: "This light probably came from the mysterious steamer Carpathia passed at about 3:15 a.m. While Rostron said he saw only her masthead light, one of his Officers swore that he also saw her port sidelight."
The port sidelight would be red. So we have a "green" "blue" and "red" light.
 
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Mar 18, 2008
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Well , Ioannis, if you ask Tim he will tell you that Bisset from Carpathia mentioned a few times “peculiar visibility” and that for sure Bisset meant refraction. I am about 90% sure that Bisset had something else in mind, simply because there is no any confirmed observation of a nighttime mirage that does not involve a light source.
If I am not mistaken this is from his book he wrote years later and has some parts different from what they were in 1912. (He has wrong dates and some different details about the rescue of the Titanic survivors..)
Aside from the crew there were several passengers on deck aboard Carpathia, I can not remember anyone mentioning some strange observations.
 

Jim Currie

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Sorry to disappoint you, Jim, :) but I could think of at least one explanation: there were icebergs between the boat and the Californian that prevented Stone and Gibson from seeing the green flare. BTW what lookout do you mean? I thought that there was no lookout on Californian.

This one is also easily explained. First of all they were very busy, trying to avoid colliding with the icebergs and hitting the boats. Of course the sky contions mattered too. It was twilight at 4 am, which means that the Californian’s lights were not as bright and maybe she was showing her stern light, the same situation as when the Titanic was approaching. On the other hand it was still dark enough at 4 am. to see her silhouette.
Hello Mila.

First: if as you suggest, Californian was swinging about and changing her position relative to the nearby vessel which you believe was Titanic, then the bearing of that vessel would have changed. It did not until after 1pm when the vessel in question moved away and the bearing changed to the right.

Second: If, as you suggest, icebergs shielded the green flares from observers on Californian, then why did not the icebergs between Carpathia and Boxhall do exactly the same thing?

Third: Before Californian stopped. there were 2 lookouts...1 at the bow and 1 in the nest. After she stopped, the one at the bow was stood-down.

Four: Bisset wrote nonsense concerning Californian. He had no idea where she was until she appeared to the WSW at 8 am that morning of April 15. The reason I know this is because Californian did not communicate with Carpathia until they were within semaphore range which was very close. Before that, there was no way anyone on Carpathia could have identified any vessel.
Captain Rostron stated that he did not see Californian until she was about 6 miles away to the WSW at 8 pm. To suggest that one of his officers did see her 10 miles to the north, when that officer must have been, as all officers would have been, engaged in the recovery of survivors and their boats is totally absurd. I am surprised that no-one has ever challenged Bisset about that rubbish.
 
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Mila

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Second: If, as you suggest, icebergs shielded the green flares from observers on Californian, then why did not the icebergs between Carpathia and Boxhall do exactly the same thing?
Hi Jim,
There were more icebergs between the boat and the Californian than between the boat and the Carpathia or one could have been positioned to prevent the sighting from the Californian.
Also could you please tell me what vessel Californian chief officer pointed to Stone when he got on the bridge? So it appears that even if nobody from Carpathia saw Californian, the officers from Californian saw Carpathia.
 

Jim Currie

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There is no evidence to show that there were icebergs between Californian and the Titanic. Californian was within half a mile of the eastern edge of the pack ice whereas, Titanic was about 4 miles east of it.
Californian was surrounded by light ice because she entered it before Lord could stop her.
Now consider this:
According to Sam, the eastern side of the pack ice was running NW - SE.
If this was so, and 10 miles separated the vessels then it does not fit. See here:
10 miles NW.jpg
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Mila,

As you probably already know, Bisset's book is available here

Full text of "TRAMPS AND LADIES"

The relevant extract from page 307 is

"in the slowly increasing daylight after 4.30 A.M., we had sighted the smoke of a
steamer on the fringe of the pack ice, ten miles away from us to
the northwards. She was making no signals, and we paid little
attention to her, for we were preoccupied with more urgent matters; but at 6 A.M. we had noticed that she was under way and
slowly coming toward us.

When I took over the watch on the bridge of the Carpathia at
8 A.M., the stranger was little more than a mile from us, and flying
her signals of identification. She was the Leyland Line cargo
steamer Californian, which had been stopped overnight, blocked
by ice.

Now she steamed up to within half a mile from the Carpathia
and stopped. An officer, on the wing of her bridge, using hand-
flags, signaled, "What's the matter?" "

[My own empahisis of 'after'] (critics of Bisset can latch onto the 'after 4.30am' as suitably vague, and I would not disagree with them).

At "6 AM" The Californian was not coming slowly towards the Carpathia at this time but was instead cutting across the ice field sort of westwards.

But might I suggest those of us who have studied what Captain Lord wrote in his 1959 Affidavit and told Harrison in the 1961 taped recorded interview transcripts, and also Groves to Walter Lord in the late 1950's correspondence and interview, and Harrison's later interview with Groves, should apply a little leeway and 'give' as we might attribute to Bisset's above volume from 1959.

"After 4.30 AM" as written by Bisset could mean all sorts, but it probably links in to The Californian going ahead for awhile at 5.15am and consequently showing smoke from her funnel.

I do not consider the above 5.15am timing in anyway contradictory to what Bisset wrote.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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