(TMU) — A hiker in the U.K. has captured brilliant images of a rare weather phenomenon known as a “mountain specter.”
Adrian Conchie captured the breathtaking display—also known as a Brocken specter—while hiking in the hills of Lake District National Park in northwest England.
The 39-year-old described the moment which took place on New Year’s Eve at 11:30 AM as a “magical” and “absolutely incredible” experience.
The illusion appears when the sun is low in the sky and the observer who is standing in front of the sun is on very high ground while looking down on clouds, mist, or fog, according to BBC. The result is a halo-like image where the person’s shadow is crowned by a circular “glory.”
A #hiker has captured these magnificent images of a rare #weather phenomenon – that looks like a '#rainbow #halo' 🌈.
Adrian Conchie, 39, was walking on a fell in the #LakeDistrict when he looked down and clocked the spectacular display, known as the Brocken spectre. pic.twitter.com/yZyMSaLOPF
— SWNS.com (@SWNS) January 10, 2020
The U.K. Met Office said:
“When an observer stands on a hill which is partially enveloped in mist and in such a position that their shadow is thrown on to the mist, they may get the illusion that the shadow is a person seen dimly through the mist. The illusion is that this person or ‘specter’ is gigantic and at a considerable distance away from them.
The sun shining behind the observer projects their shadow through the mist, while the magnification of the shadow is an optical illusion which makes the shadow on nearby clouds seem at the same distance at faraway landmarks seen through the cloud.”
The term Brocken specter was coined in 1780 by German pastor and scientist Johann Silberschlag, an avid hiker of the Harz mountains in northern Germany. The term has been mentioned in the literary works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, and others.
Conchie was embarking on an 11-mile (17.7-km) hike when the mountain specter appeared before his eyes.
A Brocken spectre, also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre, is the magnified shadow of an observer cast upon clouds opposite of the Sun's direction. pic.twitter.com/FniPX4ZUcU
— S.: (@psychcomm) January 21, 2019
The father-of-one told Daily Mail:
“I had always wanted to see one after seeing pictures online and hearing about how amazing they are from friends.
When we got to the summit I looked down and there it was—it was so vivid. I thought it would disappear there and then, but it stayed for a few minutes, it was a really magical experience.”
Conchie and his friend Bryony later encountered a second mountain specter that same day.
Like other spectacular rainbow phenomena including lunar halos, mountain specters or Brocken bows come about only in the right conditions.
— SnowdoniaWalk&Climb (@rustybale) January 19, 2017