Ghost in the mountains
Ghost in the mountains. This ghost-like figure over a mountain range is a rare natural phenomenon known as a Broken Specter. Ukrainian photographer Mikhail Baevsky was part of the group which came across the unusual spectacle at Chatyr-Dag mountain region, in Crimea, Southern Ukraine. The ghostly figure Mikhail photographed is actually his own shadow magnified hundreds of times as it is cast upon the surface of clouds opposite the sun. The stunning illusions are created when a low sun shines behind someone looking down into fog from a ridge. The ghostly figures can sometimes appear to move, often very suddenly, due to the drifting clouds.
The heads of the figures are often surrounded by rings of colored light, an effect caused by the diffraction of visible light.
Photographer Mikhail, 61, a university chemistry lecturer, trekked up to 1,200 meters above the cloud levels to get a glimpse of the phenomenon. He said: ‘I love being out taking pictures and even when it gets down to some freezing temperatures around -15 degrees I’m still out climbing the mountains looking for the perfect image.
‘As a scientist, I know the physics behind why this shape happens but because that day I saw this a few times it was as if I was being chased by a ghost. The beginning of the day was so cloudy that I just presumed that I wouldn’t be able to capture anything.
The Broken specter got its name because of early sightings on the Brocken, the highest peak of Germany’s Harz Mountains. It can appear on any misty mountainside or cloud bank, or even on some occasions, from an aeroplane so long as the conditions are right.
Amazingly, the ghostly figures can sometimes appear to move rapidly when the cloud layer moves or there are variations in its density. German scientist Johann Silberschlag first observed the phenomenon in 1780 but since then they have been seen and recorded many times in the region.
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.
Among mountain climbers though there is a superstition that whoever sees a Broken Spectre will die in the mountains the very next day. The team also headed up Angar-Buran and Eklizi-Burun mountains in search of a sighting. The region is famous for the stunning landscapes and breath-taking wonders which attract people from all over the world.
Ghost in the mountains