Monday, September 21, 2015

Hikers Witness Rare Optical Illusion

Hikers Witness Rare Optical Illusion


Sep 21, 2015, 3:42 PM ET

Radka Chapin

Radka Chapin was climbing a mountain when she witnessed an optical illusion known as a Brocken Spectre.more +

Two hikers witnessed a rare occurrence while climbing a mountain in Mount Rainier National Park: their own optical illusion.

Radka Chapin and her husband Chris were standing on the summit ridge of Washington's Tamanos Mountain on Saturday when they got to see an effect known as a “Brocken Spectre.”

A "Brocken Spectre" occurs when a person is standing above the horizon, causing a shadow to be cast on the mist or cloud below. As a result, a circular rainbow halo forms around the shadow or "Spectre."

“We were secretly hoping we would get lucky on Saturday as the conditions looked perfect,” Chapin told ABC News.

She added: "As the day went on, the Spectre would last longer and was more prominent and colorful. The best display was in the evening, when the Spectre appeared very clear, large and a short distance from us, right before thick clouds rolled in and obstructed the sun."

Chapin said she has witnessed other forms of atmospheric phenomenon before but last weekend's Spectre was incredibly significant.

“I have seen many halos in the mountains, beautiful storm clouds, incredible sun rays, but this was my first time seeing the Brocken Spectre,” she said. “It's truly a spectacular sight to see.”


  1. My youngest son and I once witnessed a repetitive rainbow following a rainstorm on a soccer field. The repetition of colors formed what appeared to be the inside of a band shell. This lasted for what seemed to be ten or more moments. Against a stark grey sky, truly magical.

    Business associates and I also saw a rainbow close up. Appearing on the other side of a short fence we were able to walk within about 50 feet of the spectacular colors. We watched in amazement for at least 15 minutes.

  2. Were there any Leprechauns or a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow William?

  3. You are lucky to have seen those beautiful rainbows. There are a whole host of related phenomena described at this web site with some great photos.

    1. Thanks for posting that link mick. The supernumeraries that we saw were continuous all the way to the ground. I wish we had attempted to count the number of repeated rainbows. Truly a once in a lifetime vision.