The Brocken Spectre



A Brocken spectre is an apparently gigantic shadow cast in fog or mist, often surrounded by an aura. According to Wikipedia:

The "spectre" appears when the sun shines from behind a climber who is looking down from a ridge or peak into mist. The light projects the climber's shadow forward through the mist, often in an odd triangular shape due to perspective. The apparent magnification of size of the shadow is an optical illusion that occurs when the observer judges his shadow on relatively nearby clouds to be at the same distance as faraway land objects seen through gaps in the clouds, or when there are no reference points at all by which to judge its size. The shadow also falls on water droplets of varying distances from the eye, confusing depth perception. The ghost can appear to move (sometimes quite suddenly) because of the movement of the cloud layer.

This one, which has a decidedly Blair-Witch-Project feel, was taken in Japan somewhere in the Tanzawa region. It's from Wikipedia, and the photographer is unidentified. The Nonist has an article on Brocken spectres today, with a good collection of photos.

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Anthelion! (ann-thell-e-on) from my Collins dictionary means: a faint halo sometimes seen in high altitude regions around a shadow cast onto fog.
Related to rainbows, I think. If you are up high, say in a tower or on a hill looking out into a valley with the sun behind you, rainbows are circular.
You also get them if you look at your own shadow in dewy grass, especially in moonlight.
A most beautiful word for a beautiful phenomenon

Thanks SoLo! I love this stuff!
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There's a great website full of examples and explanations of various atmospheric optical phenomena.
Brocken spectre is there.

I discovered the site after a cross-country flight where I saw a shadow of our plane with a halo around it cast on the clouds below us -called a "glory."

The web site's at
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