Everybody, at some point or another, covets the notion of having a visibly unmistakable spiritual experience. However, sometimes in our unbridled pursuit of such an emotional connection to the spirit world, Mother Nature plays tricks on our eyes.
During a mountain climbing expedition, a UK man was taken aback by what he thought was the visual image of a ghost. The Manchester man’s experience would easily qualify as a spirit sighting, if it not for a perfectly natural phenomenon.
Thomas Swallow was involved in a 40-mile trek with some hiking buddies. As he reached a summit peak, some 2,900 feet into the heavens, Swallow saw something astonishing. He described it as, “weird, surreal and a really beautiful moment.”
By himself, having hiked on ahead of his group, Swallow witnessed what appeared to be a “figure floating in the sky.” The avid mountain climber was awestruck by what he saw. Or at least what he thought he was seeing.
Acting quickly, Swallow proceeded to photograph his experience. He snapped a number of pictures. What the images showed was a ghostly human-like figure floating aimlessly in the clouds. It was like a specter hanging over Swallow.
He’s not the only one to have seen these figures.
Almost anyone would immediately accuse the photographer of excelling in image manipulation skills using Photoshop. Swallow didn’t alter the pictures at all. However, there turned out to be a plausible explanation for what the pictures really did show.
One need only apply a little atmospheric science to explain a surreal image that truly did look like a god-like figure floating in the clouds. What Swallow saw in his photographs really did happen. The phenomenon even has a name.
The ghostly image floating in the sky was an optical illusion. Such illusions are commonly created on densely overcast days. They’re called a “Broken spectra”. Spectra, of course, are referencing something akin to a rainbow. They are broken reflections.
What Swallow saw in the sky was real enough, however, it wasn’t a spiritual being. As the clouds pushed across the summit, moisture particles encapsulated Swallow’s shape. Light particles then bounced off these reflective moisture particles, casting an eerie shadow.
Swallow was actually looking at a natural reflection of himself reflected upon the sky. It still didn’t erase the immediate sense of awe he had when he first saw the image. Even though Swallow was disappointed that it wasn’t a surreal spiritual experience, he was still impressed.
Swallow’s pictures generated a lot of comments on social media. Many people agreed that it was “an amazing and beautiful shot.” Everyone agreed that it looked like a spiritual or ghost-like figure floating in the sky.
To turn and see such a figure, its illumination cast against the sky, would understandably feel surreal. Alas, as spiritual as it might have been for this Manchester mountain climber, it was just another one of Mother Nature’s fun little tricks.