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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cloud Collecting

but to add color to my sunset sky. 
- Rabindranath Tagore

A friend recently showed me a new book she got called The Cloud Collector's Handbook, and that was all it took to get me off and running looking at a whole new part of nature I've never paid too much attention to before! I ordered my own copy of the book (it's a good one!) and have spent some time every day over the last week carefully looking at the sky, learning about the varieties of clouds, how they form, and what they mean in terms of forecasting the weather.

The book starts by introducing the ten main cloud types. When I mention clouds it seems most everyone is compelled to start naming as many kinds as they remember from their early science classes. Here are a few of them that I've seen over the last few days:

Stratocumulus - one of the most common, most varied cloud types
Cumulus - the "fair-weather" cloud; forms on thermals during sunny days
Cirrus - a high cloud type formed of ice crystals, shown here in its "uncinus" form where the falling ice crystals give a comma-like appearance to the clouds
Altocumulus - mid-level patches of clouds that look like cotton balls or, in my mind, a flock of sheep
The book then goes into all the varieties or "species" of the main cloud types, including accessory clouds and other special cloud features. Here's one I'm seeing everywhere now that I know to look for it:

Undulatus - a wave-like appearance in the clouds, created by undulating (air) currents much like waves in water
I have yet to add any cloud optical effects to my "collection" since getting the book, but you can bet some photos of such things will appear on my blog in the near future now that I have a keener eye for them. The possible sights go far beyond the colorful rainbow to include features like sundogs, crepuscular rays, iridescence, and circumzenithal arcs. I can't wait!

Each moment of the year has its own beauty, 
a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 comment:

Vera said...

I am so proud of your limitless curiosity and desire to learn all you can about nature. Clouds are very fascinating and I look forward to more amazing photos.