THIS strange figure in the sky at a Herefordshire beauty spot might look like a phantom but it is actually a natural phenomenon known as a Brocken spectre.

The picture was taken by Herefordshire Drone Photography Facebook group member Mat Price while she was walking on Hergest Ridge, near Kington.

He said: "I saw this Broken spectre just above Hergest Ridge.

"A Brocken spectre is the magnified shadow of an observer cast in mid-air upon any type of cloud opposite a strong light source."


According to the Met Office, the spectre is named after the German mountain on which is was first noticed, and is really a large shadow of the observer cast onto cloud or mist.

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"When an observer stands on a hill which is partially enveloped in mist and in such a position that their shadow is thrown on to the mist, they may get the illusion that the shadow is a person seen dimly through the mist.

"The illusion is that this person or 'spectre' is gigantic and at a considerable distance away from them."


The Met Office says the magnification of the shadow is an optical illusion which makes the shadow on nearby clouds seem at the same distance at faraway landmarks seen through the cloud.

"Similarly, the shadow falls upon water droplets of varying distance which distorts perception and can make the shadow appear to move as the clouds vary and shift. This all combines to make the rather disorienting effect of a giant shadow moving in the distance."

The spectre has been mentioned in works of literature by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner) and novelists Charles Dickens (Olive Twist) and Lewis Carroll (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) among others.