27 Jan 2011
Ghostly figure appears in the clouds (but this spectre is completely harmless)
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:10 PM on 27th January 2011
At first glance it may look like a ghostly shape silhouetted against a rainbow.
But this is the Brocken Spectre phenomenon, an optical illusion created when low sun shines behind someone looking down into fog from a ridge.
The atmospheric conditions throw the person's shadow forward, creating this spectral apparition.
On this occasion, the image was captured by 59-year-old Mikhail Baevsky. Handily, he teaches Organic Chemistry at a university and realised the phenomenon was probably caused by the weather.
Phenomenon: The Brocken Spectre figure was captured in the Chatyr-Dag, a mountainous region in Crimea near the Ukraine by university lecturer Mikhail Baevsky
Mr Baevsky was in the Chatyr-Dag, a mountainous region in Crimea near the Ukraine, when he took the shot.
'I had only read about this phenomenon before in books but had never seen it before myself,' he said.
'I was scanning the horizon for a good shot and while turning my head I noticed the dark ghostly figure - so I quickly reached for my camera.
'I took as many shots as possible before it disappeared. It does look amazing.'
Despite sub-freezing temperatures - sometimes plummeting as low as -15 degrees - keen photographer Mr Baevsky spends most weekends climbing the mountain range in search of the perfect image.
The highest peak is Eklizi-Bourun at 1527m above sea level which is where these stunning images were taken.
The region is famous for the stunning landscapes and breathtaking wonders which attract people from all over the world.
The Chatyr-Dag Mountain - the second highest of its kind in Crimea - is not only a mountain blanketed in beautiful fauna and flora during the summer months, but it's home to more than 140 caves and passages.
Harmless: The optical illusion is actually the projection of the shadow of the photographer in the mist
The Brocken Spectre can appear on any misty mountainside or cloud bank, or even on some occasions, from an aeroplane.
The extraordinary sight involves the light behind a climber casting their shadow often in an odd triangular shape.
The shadow can also fall on water droplets of varying differences from the observer's eye causing confused depth perception.
Amazingly, the ghostly figure can sometimes appear to move rapidly when the cloud layer moves or there are variations in its density.
The head of the figure is often surrounded by rings of coloured light - caused by light diffraction.
The Brocken spectre got its name because of early sightings on the Brocken, the highest peak of Germany's Harz Mountains.
German scientist Johann Silberschlag first observed the phenomenon in 1780 but since then they have been seen and recorded many times in the region.
Among mountain climbers though there is a superstition that whoever sees a Brocken spectre will die in the mountains the very next day.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1350873/Brocken-Spectre-phenomenon-Ghostly-figure-clouds.html#ixzz1CHLfx9kP