Beyond the Forecast: Spectacular Weather Events Caught on Camera

By Sophia Maddox | April 1, 2024

Brocken Spectre

Join us we embark on a journey through the world of astonishing weather phenomena. From the awe-inspiring dance of the Northern Lights to the dramatic fury of tornadoes, nature's wonders never cease to amaze. In this series, we'll explore 40 remarkable weather events that have been caught on film, revealing the stunning beauty and power of our planet's atmosphere. Each phenomenon offers a glimpse into the fascinating forces at play in our skies, from ethereal fogbows to the explosive brilliance of volcanic lightning. Get ready to be both educated and entertained as we unravel the mysteries of weather and delve into the breathtaking moments that remind us of the Earth's incredible dynamism. So, let's embark on this meteorological adventure and discover the astonishing weather phenomena that continue to captivate and inspire us all.

test article image
Jim Frost via Royal Meteorological Society and the Natural History Museum

The Brocken Spectre, a captivating optical illusion that occurs when an observer casts a shadow onto a bank of fog or mist, often seen atop a mountain or high ridge. This phenomenon creates the illusion of a gigantic, elongated shadow with a halo of colored rings surrounding it. The name "Brocken Spectre" originates from the Brocken, a peak in the Harz Mountains of Germany, where this phenomenon was first documented. It happens when sunlight is diffracted or scattered by water droplets in the mist, creating a stunning and often eerie visual spectacle that has fascinated mountaineers and explorers for centuries. 

Parhelion

test article image
Michal Krzysztofowicz via Royal Meteorological Society / Natural History

A parhelion, also known as a "sun dog" or "mock sun," is an optical phenomenon that creates the appearance of one or more bright spots of light on either side of the sun, often forming a halo-like effect. Parhelia occur due to the refraction, or bending, of sunlight by hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. These ice crystals align themselves horizontally as they fall through the atmosphere, refracting sunlight and creating the illusion of additional suns.

Parhelia are typically seen when the sun is low on the horizon, such as during sunrise or sunset. They are often accompanied by a 22-degree halo, which encircles the sun, adding to the visual spectacle.