10 Ghostly Images of the Brocken Spectre (Video)

10 Ghostly Images of the Brocken Spectre (Video) 2

Photo: Σ64

Those who love mountain climbing may have observed a strange and startling phenomenon: a shadowy, almost ghostly outline of a person magnified by a misty halo around it. This seemingly supernatural experience is called a Brocken Spectre or a Brocken Bow – a climber standing in front of a low sun on a ridge or peak on a misty or foggy day.

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At Peak Korzhenevskaya, Moskvina glacier, Tajikistan:

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Photo: DMITRY N. ZHUKOV

Though a Brocken Spectre may appear huge because of fog and the glory obscuring its dimensions, it is merely the shadow of a person seen in the mist – usually one’s own – converging toward the antisolar point and coinciding with a glory (a rainbow-coloured halo produced by light backscattered through a cloud of water droplets).

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Photo: DMITRY N. ZHUKOV

Though a Brocken Spectre may appear huge because of fog and the glory obscuring its dimensions, it is merely the shadow of a person seen in the mist – usually one’s own – converging toward the antisolar point and coinciding with a glory (a rainbow-coloured halo produced by light backscattered through a cloud of water droplets).

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Photo: DAMIEN BOILLEY

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Photo: KEIICHIROU SHIKANO

By the way, the name of the phenomenon is not a misspelled version of “broken spectre” but refers to the German mountain the Brocken, the higest peak of Germany’s Harz region. The Brocken is also the place where on Walpurgisnacht, witches are said to congregate in high numbers.

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Photo: GRELIBRE.NET

According to local legend the harmless optical phenomenon can even be fatal! It is said that once a climber was startled by the sudden appearance of a human figure with a ring of light around its head in the mist. Probably reminded of the witch stories surrounding the Brocken, the scared climber tripped and fell to his death. What startled the climber so much was of course not a stranger, but his own shadow magnified by a glory ring.

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Photo: HEINI SAMUELSEN

The Brocken Spectre was observed and first described by theologian and natural scientist Johann Silberschlag in 1780. Since then, several records of the phenomenon have been kept in regional literature about the Brocken.

But the phenomenon is by no means restricted to Germany; Brocken Spectres have also been observed at many moutainous regions around the world like Maui’s Haleakalā National Park, the Cairngorms in Scotland or as below, at the Lake District, UK.

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Photo: MATT MAPLESTON

Buildings can have a Brocken spectre too:

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Photo: ARVO TARMULA


And planes, here caught on a flight to Utah:

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Photo: STEVE JURVETSON

 

Brocken Spectre on Sgorr Dhonuill (VIDEO)

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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