‘Figure’ in cloud has people looking to the divine for explanation. What caused it?

Mount Washington Observatory Facebook page screenshot

A very human looking silhouette was seen hovering over New Hampshire’s 6,288-foot Mount Washington, and it didn’t take long for commenters on social media to see spiritual overtones.

It was photographed by a meteorologist at sunrise Tuesday, Sept. 27, and resembled someone standing in the sky, circled by a halo of golden light.

Staff at the Mount Washington Observatory shared the image on Facebook, and offered a scientific explanation.

However, many among the thousands who have reacted to the photo saw something “very holy looking,” and they called the science talk a “buzz kill.”

“Looks like an angel is appearing. Spectacular,” Jo Lynn Van Wart posted on the observatory’s Facebook page.

“I understand the reasoning that this is a scientific and not spiritual event..., but it is really, really hard not to see it as spiritual,” Donna Duffy Annicelli wrote.

“God is watching us,” Christine Bratton said.

Observatory staff offered a complicated explanation that summed up the image as a “Brocken spectre surrounded by a glory in the clouds.”

That’s two rare atmospheric effects combined into one, which is not surprising on a mountaintop notorious for having extreme weather — including snow in September.

Glories are typically seen at summits and consist of a series of rainbow-colored circles created “when light hits the little water droplets making up clouds or fog,” according to the National Weather Service.

“Brocken spectres have the same requirements. When you cast your shadow down into clouds or fog, the light exaggerates your figure. You seem much larger and longer-limbed, and you may appear to be moving because of movement in the water droplets,” NWS experts say.

“These unnerving shapes coupled with glories fueled superstitions for centuries.”

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