A Brocken spectre, also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre is the apparently enormously magnified shadow of an observer cast, when the Sun is low, upon the upper surfaces of clouds that are below the mountain upon which he stands.
A Brocken spectre differs from the light effect named glory
. A glory is an optical phenomenon produced by light backscattered (a combination of diffraction, reflection and refraction) towards its source by a cloud of uniformly-sized water droplets. A glory has multiple colored rings.
The two mentioned effects often appear together. They are quite different from the light effect of halo
Mythology and science
The rareness and strangeness of these light effects made people in previous centuries found folktales and fables connected with these effects.
In China, this phenomenon is called Buddha's light (佛光). It was often observed on cloud-shrouded high mountains, such as Huangshan Mountains and Mount Emei. Records of the phenomenon at Mount Emei date back to A.D. 63. The colorful halo always surrounds the observer's own shadow, and thus was often taken to show the observer's personal enlightenment (associated with Buddha or divinity) until modern science explained the optics behind the phenomenon.
The spectre was observed, described and named by Johann Silberschlag in 1780 at the summit of Brocken
mountain in Harz region in Germany. Because the peak is above the cloud level, and the area is frequently misty, the condition of a shadow cast onto a cloud layer is relatively favored. The appearance of giant shadows that seemed to move by themselves due to the movement of the cloud layer (this movement is another part of the definition of the Brocken Spectre), and which were surrounded by optical glory halos, may have contributed to the reputation the Harz mountains hold as a refuge for witches and evil spirits. In Goethe's Faust, the Brocken is called the Blocksberg and is the site of the Witches' Sabbath on Walpurgis Night.
In Tatras mountains
region there was found a fable that if one sees his own brocken spectre, he is in a danger of death. On the other hand, fable says that once you see your brocken spectre for the third time, you will never die in mountains. There is some jot of true in this fable. Due to the very rareness of this effect it is likely that you are yet a proven mounaineer if you saw your brocken spectre at least for three times. Thus it is some reasonable probability that you won't die of subjective mistake in mountains.
C. T. R. Wilson saw a glory while working as a temporary observer at the Ben Nevis weather station. Inspired by the impressive sight, he decided to build a device for creating clouds in the laboratory, so that he could make a synthetic, small-scale glory. His work led directly to the cloud chamber, a device for detecting ionizing radiation for which he and Arthur Compton received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1927.
Seeing a brocken is a special experience anytime. What does it mean to you or what are the fables connected with it in your mountain region? Feel free to contribute your photos.
The page made with sources of www.wikipedia.org