Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Shadow ghost at a window!

Bush window lightI first noticed the shadowy shape at the window because it was moving! Looking at it more closely, the dark shape resembled ghostly fingers just outside the window! A shadow ghost in the night? Or its hand, anyway!

The cause of the ghostly shape was soon apparent. The 'fingers' were leaves in a bush some distance from the window. They were moving because of the wind. And they were only visible because of two things. Firstly, the window was steamed up. Secondly, there was light shining from a distant window, projecting the shadow of the bush onto the steamed up window. In the diagram you can see the setup, with a distant light source on one side, the bush in the middle and a steamed up window on the other side.

While it was not too difficult to work out what was going on in this particular case, that might not always happen. For instance, if the window was high up, as some are, it might not be possible to see the bush or distant light source through it. Another possibility is that a witness might only see the menacing shape at the window momentarily, because the distant light source goes off, leaving no time to see what is going on. This could certainly happen during a night-time thunder storm, with the bush only briefly illuminated by lightning. Just like in a horror movie!

The effect is more dramatic than you might imagine! Anyone who does not work out what is really happening could easily report it as a shadow ghost at the window. Obviously, there could be objects other than bushes projected onto the steamed up window. What if it was a real person instead, for instance? And I guess the effect would work with frosted glass just as well.

I'm pretty sure I've seen this effect, or something like it, before in a haunted house. Obviously, once you label a place 'haunted', paranormal interpretations of such effects become more likely! It's yet another example the 'ghost at the window' (see here).

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