Stunning picture shows rare optical phenomenon known as a ‘Brocken spectre’ at Moel Famau
A member of the Flintshire based North East Wales Search and Rescue team (NEWSAR) captured on camera a ‘rare phenomena’ while in the Clwydian Range at the weekend.
The stunning picture shows a Brocken spectre – where the shadow of the photographer has been cast on clouds opposite the Sun’s direction.
NEWSAR volunteer Colin Martin took the photograph while out in the hills on Saturday hills.
The picture shows the cloud and mist filled valleys around Moel Famau with the hill tops poking above in the sunshine, the Brocken spectre phenomena is on the bottom right.
According to the Met Office, the phenomenon is named after the German mountain on which it was first noted, a Brocken spectre is a large shadow of an observer cast onto cloud or mist.
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 ‘spectre’ 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.
Similarly, the shadow falls upon water droplets of varying distance which distorts perception and can make the shadow appear to move as the clouds vary and shift.
This all combines to make the rather disorienting effect of a giant shadow moving in the distance.
The term ‘Brocken spectre’ was coined in 1780 by Johann Silberschlag, a German pastor and natural scientist who frequented the Harz mountains.
The term has been popularly used throughout literature, mentioned in works by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll amongst others.
Colin is an Equipment Officer with NEWSAR which is based in Mold.
The team has launched an urgent fundraising appeal as it looks to replace its Incident Control Vehicle
The volunteer rescuers need to raise £65,000 to replace their current ageing and unreliable vehicle.
The Incident Control Vehicle is integral to search and rescue operations the team are called to, without it, they would be unable to respond to many of the calls they are scrambled to in the region.
NEWSAR team members are on call 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
The search and rescue team’s primary operating area is in North East Wales mainly covering the counties of Flintshire, Denbighshire, Wrexham and parts of Conwy and Powys.
The team also regularly assists Mountain Rescue teams elsewhere in North Wales as well as Lowland Search and Rescue teams in Cheshire and Shropshire.
NEWSAR volunteers also assist Police in searching for vulnerable people who are missing from home or those in need of rescue.
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