Well 'halo' there: Hiker snaps fantastic photos of 'brocken spectre' & 'glory' effects

Photo of "Brocken Spectre" & "Glory" effect as seen atop Fortress Mountain in Washington's Glacier Peak Wilderness. (Photo: Radka Chapin)

Sounds like something more like a James Bond movie, but a hiker got another great set of photos of "brocken spectre".

Radka Chapin, who successfully found the spectre on her last hike to Tamanos Mountain found it again while hiking in the Glacier Peak wilderness this weekend.

"We climbed through the clouds and in poor visibility till we got to the summit ridge of Fortress Mountain and above the clouds," Chapin said. "I was looking for Brocken Spectre as the conditions for this phenomenon were ideal and there it was! It was short-lived and turned into a glory in the end. I put on a polarizer filter and the camera was able to capture the outer rings of the spectre that were not visible to the human eye."

The effect, which projects your long shadow on top of a rainbow halo, requires sunshine, a person on a peak or at least someplace where they are higher than the horizon, and a fog or mist layer below. The spectre is always shown exactly opposite from the sun, which is why if the sun is above the horizon, you have to be able to see the effect below your horizon, like, on top of a mountain. (The effect can be replicated on a flat surface if the sun is low on the horizon)

The shadow surrounded by the circular rainbow halo is caused as the light bends around you and your shadow is projected onto the fog/mist layer below. Much like where you see a rainbow positioned is unique to your eye, the spectre would also drift as your eye moves.

The great site Atmospheric Optics has a bit more technical explanations on Brocken Spectre and their related effect, "the glory," which Chapin also captured this trip. You can also see a similar effect if you've ever had a window seat on a plane on the shadow side of the fuselage -- the plane will cast a similar rainbow-halo shadow on the clouds below.

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