The Brocken Spectre

Monday 15 November 2010, 14:48

Derek Brockway Derek Brockway

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Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!

Recently Huw Beynon from Llandeilo encountered a weather phenomenon he had never witnessed before and managed to capture it with his camera.

This ghost-like image is caused by a unique combination of atmospheric effects which give rise to an illusion called a Glory or Brocken Spectre:

A weather phenomena known as Glory or Brocken Spectre by Huw Beynon

Huw Beynon from Llandeilo captured this startling image of a Brocken Spectre.

The name comes from The Brocken - the highest peak in Germany's Harz Mountains, where it was first seen by mountaineers.

Legend has it that a climber was startled by the sudden appearance in the mist of a human figure with a ring of light around its head.

Frightened, the climber fell to his death, killed by his own shadow and the ring of light was his own glory ring!

To see one, you must have your back to the sun and there must be many water droplets in the air. Sunlight hits the water droplets and bounces back off them. The reflected light comes back towards the sun and the observer.

Here's another one sent in from Phil Edwards who snapped one in Pontcanna Fields recently:
A Brocken Spectre taken by Phil Edwards, Wales.

A Brocken Spectre in Pontcanna Fields by Phil Edwards.

Even if you are in a group you can only see your own shadow and or your own Brocken Spectre.

Brocken Spectres are usually confined to high-mountain areas when the sun is low but they can also be seen from an aeroplane flying in sunlight above clouds.

With the sun above the aircraft, the glory is visible around the aircraft's shadow, projected onto cloud below.

So if you're out walking and see your shadow in the mist. Don't be scared - It's not a ghost; just a harmless Brocken Spectre!


Images of Brocken Spectres on Google images.

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    Comment number 1.

    Whilst out for a drive,with a friend and her daughter, we saw a strange apparition in the clouds above Limeslade/Bracelet Bay. It looked like an old sailing ship, the detail was amazing! It spooked us!! My friend took a photograph on my mobile phone, as we thought no-one would believe us!! We assumed that others had seen it, and we watched the news, read the papers but no mention of it. So, after some research, I believe that we experienced some kind of brocken spectre. The date was 8th October 2010, We would love to know if anyone else saw this that day. I will try and post photo. K.Jones


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