the mountaineer reaches a high ridge, a ghostly figure towers out
from the mist, its head sheathed in shimmering rings. This at one
time unnerving apparition is the "Spectre of the Brocken",
so named because of sightings on the Brocken, the highest peak of
Germany's Harz Mountains.
Nik Szymanek (astrophotography
site book )took
this photograph high on La Palma in the Canary Islands.
©2002 Nik Szymanek, shown with permission
The Brocken Spectre appears when a low sun is behind a climber who
is looking downwards into mist from a ridge or peak. The "spectre"
is the shadowy figure - the glow and rings are of course a glory centered
directly opposite the sun at the antisolar point. But how
is the ghostly figure produced? It is no more than
the shadow of the climber projected forward through the mist.
All shadows converge towards the antisolar point where the
glory also shines. The sometimes odd triangular shape is a
perspective effect. The Brocken Spectre is a similar effect
rays and cloud
The spectre sometimes appears to be huge. This is probably caused
by the presence of the glory and the mist obscuring more familiar
reference points with which to judge its size.
More Brocken spectres.