Cloud Watching

Yes, cloud watching really is a hobby!

And it's been around for as long as people have. It's easy to take clouds for granted and forget to look up and admire their beauty. We may even complain about clouds if we want more blue skies! Sometimes we may go through our lives, walking outside but looking downwards as we think about all the things we need to get done today and we may be oblivious as nature passes us by above in the skies.

One person who stopped and took the time to study and admire clouds was John Constable. He was a famous English artist renowned for his paintings of landscapes where the sky and clouds were often the key feature. In 1821 he wrote 'Skies must and always shall with me make an effectual part of the composition'.

There are societies and clubs wholly devoted to this pastime and websites with beautiful photos sent in by enthusiasts.

A cloud, as we probably all remember from school, is a large group of tiny droplets of water or ice crystals that are so light that they float in the air. We've probably all heard of Cumulus type clouds - these are the cute, fluffy ones that we tend to draw in simple pictures. But we may not have particularly noticed that there are different types of clouds that have their own shape and character according to how and where they were formed. There are three main types of clouds but these can combine to produce a cloud with its own character so that then you end up with about ten common types of clouds.

You can also categorise clouds according to which layer of the sky (or troposphere as it's properly called) they are in. So this form of Cloud Watching takes us to Cloud Spotting where we identify the different types.

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