Witch-Burning Bonfires in the Czech Republic Visible from Space this Year

The fires were more prominent in Czechia than in Germany, Poland, Austria, and Slovakia

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 02.05.2017 11:13:37 (updated on 02.05.2017) Reading time: 1 minute

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 02.05.2017 11:13:37 (updated on 02.05.2017) Reading time: 1 minute

Bonfires across the Czech Republic appear like thousands of small purple dots on satellite images taken on Walpurgis Night, in Czech, Čarodějnice, over the weekend.

Thanks to the clear weather, this image from April 30th was able to capture the corner of the Czech basin where the tradition of burning witches enjoys the most popularity.

“Smoke particles emit at a slightly different wavelength than the Earth’s surface. Desert storms or volcanic dusts are detected as well. Smoke from the fire is similar to volcanic dust, they are smaller,” Czech Hydrometeorological Institute spokesperson Petr Dvořák told iDnes.cz.

Image: Český hydrometeorologický ústav
Image: Český hydrometeorologický ústav


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Fires were most visible from the Vysočina highlands to Rakovník in Central Bohemia, and appeared to outnumber those on the German border. In Poland, Bavaria, Austria, and Slovakia, a minimal number of fires are visible on the satellite image.

“It is a great achievement, perhaps it is a cultural affair of our region but not most of the neighboring states,” Dvořák said.

Czech Television also reported on the remarkably spatial distribution of the dark spots on the satellite map of Bohemia this year, a phenomenon which was already visible in 2012 via NOAA imagery.


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