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Watch: The stunning optical illusion captured on a Welsh mountain

07 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Brocken Spectre spotted on Crib Goch (Credit: Dylan Hughes)

When Dylan Hughes was out walking in the stunning surrounds of Eryri National Park last week he didn’t expect to witness one of the rarest weather phenomenon on the planet.

The ancient hills and mountains of the national park are of course filled with myths and legends and what Dylan witnessed was certainly in keeping with the mystical and magical history of the Welsh peaks.

Out walking along Crib Goch with a friend they were stopped in their tracks by a wonderful sight of a rare weather phenomena known as a Brocken Spectre.

Dylan, who is raising money for Breast Cancer Now Wales by aiming to climb Yr Wyddfa 100 times this year, said: “I would say it was around 11:30am and not long after we reached the top of Crib Goch and 15 min into our knife edge walking my friend Nina was walking ahead wanting a photo when I suddenly looked to my right and saw this phenomenal sight. We both were ecstatic. And knew it was a very rare sight indeed.”

So ecstatic and overcome was he that he even burst into song!

According to this description from the Met Office a Brocken Spectre is: ‘A large shadow of an observer cast onto cloud or mist. It is named after the German mountain on which it was first noted.

‘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 Brocken Spectre witnessed by Dylan Hughes on Crib Goch (Credit: Dylan Hughes)

‘A Brocken Spectre, an optical illusion where an observer casts a shadow across the mist, giving the effect of a giant 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.’

You can donate to Dylan’s fundraising campaign HERE

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1 month ago

Fantastic stuff … happened to me as well on Crib Goch in 1999, brings back good memories thanks….

1 month ago

I guess not all Welsh people can sing! Also, Scientists really do think they can explain everything, when in reality Science is predominantly still made up of “Theories” and assumptions. Scientists are in fact the 21st century Theologians, more so than even the religious types.

Richard Lloyd
Richard Lloyd
1 month ago
Reply to  Riki

Riki are you not allowed out without your carer?

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