Brocken spectre at Rievaulx

English Heritage has been advertising widely an event at Rievaulx Abbey called Brocken Spectre – an Evening of Light and Sound.  As well as advertisements in the press, there was a leaflet drop today in Kirkbymoorside, so I think most people likely to be interested will already know about this event.  But nowhere does the advertising explain what a Brocken spectre is, so I resorted to the internet to find out.  Wikipedia says:

A Brocken spectre, also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre, is the apparently enormous and magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun. The head of the figure is often surrounded by the glowing halo-like rings of a glory—rings of coloured light that appear directly opposite the sun when sunlight meets a cloud of uniformly-sized water droplets.

The phenomenon can appear on any misty mountainside or cloud bank, even when seen from an aeroplane, but the frequent fogs and low-altitude accessibility of the Brocken, a peak in the Harz Mountains in Germany, have created a local legend from which the phenomenon draws its name. The Brocken spectre was observed and described by Johann Silberschlag in 1780, and has since been recorded often in literature about the region.”

There’s lots more, but this gives you the general idea. This picture (courtesy of Wikipedia) seems to sum it up pretty well.

A semi-artificial Brocken spectre created by standing in front of the headlight of a car, on a foggy night.

The event runs from April 12 to 15 and you can get 10% off the price if you book before the 9th.


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