Brocken Spectre and Glory Observed from Viterbo Airport, Italy

February 17, 2023



Photographer: Marco Meniero 

Summary Author: Marco Meniero 

Suppose we're standing on a hill and the Sun is shining behind us, our shadow is projected onto the fog below and is apparently transformed into a pyramid-shaped silhouette with its apex at the antisolar point, right where the shadow of our head appears. This shadow is called the Brocken Spectre (top photo) and was coined years ago during observations held on the Hartz Mountains in Germany. If the apex of the shadow is surrounded by a luminous halo then this is referred to as a Glory (bottom photo), which can often be seen from the window seat on a commercial jet. The Glory, like the Brocken Specter is an antisolar phenomenon, and both result from the diffraction of sunlight.

According to atmospheric physicist Robert Greenler, the halos drawn on the heads of the saints in art history seem to be an interpretation/reproduction of the Glory. Based on a theory formulated by Van De Hulst H. C, the rings of the Glory are formed by water droplets or minute ice crystals found in stratus-type clouds. The radius of the concentric rings can vary from a minimum of 1.2° to a maximum of 8.3°. Photos taken on December 28, 2022.

Photo details: Nikon Z9 camera; ISO 32; optic Nikon S14-12/2.8 lens; f/4.5).


Viterbo Airport, Italy Coordinates: 42.43611112.061667

Related Links:

Brocken Spectre and Glory from Northern Italy

Mario’s Website