Otherworldly Words: Brocken spectre

brocken-spectre2April is a month for fools! From words that refer to natural phenomenon that have misled  us to words to describe the things we do to make fools of others, this month I’ll explore words to do with some sort of trickery.

First up is brocken spectre. This optical illusion caused by one’s own shadow at high altitudes was once thought to be a mountain spirit that chased humans. When the observer is lit from behind, his/her shadow can be cast onto fog below and appear like the image at the right — as if a creature is coming toward one from below! The glorious rings around the shadow are part of the magical illusion.

With only a shadow of a doubt, we can say that this optical trickery will fool us no more!

Learn more: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-31447148

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