‘Look Up at the Sky Day’ 2015
It’s easy to get caught up in our thoughts and forget to notice what’s all around us. ‘Look Up at the Sky Day’ on 14 April encourages us to stop and appreciate the sky above us, the clouds and the many varieties of birds that circle and glide above us. I love birds but I also love noticing the clouds. I wouldn’t call myself a cloudspotter and I would struggle to name more than a few cloud types but I can appreciate their beauty and phenomenon.
Before I came to live in Fife I spent a lot of time here on holidays and on day trips. Living in a tenement flat in Glasgow and working in the city centre , the sky was something I had to strain to see. What really struck me about Fife was that there was so much sky and so many more types of clouds that I had never really noticed before.
From studying geography at school, I know that clouds in meteorological terms are visible masses of liquid or frozen particles of water suspended in the atmosphere above the earth. I know rain comes from clouds, a most important resource that gives us life and also offers protection against the heat moving in and out of our planet. So, vital in cooling our atmosphere and possible impacts on our climate as a result of greenhouse gases and higher atmospheric temperatures. That’s about as far as my scientific knowledge of clouds go.
Having more sky to look at and becoming more inquisitive about clouds, I began to think more about their shapes and what causes clouds to form the way the way they do. I found a book on clouds and simultaneously heard about a new web based society called ‘ The Cloud Appreciation Society’. The society was founded by Gavin Pretor- Pinney as a way of reclaiming the positive nature of clouds and appreciating their splendour without members having to be schooled in the science of meteorology and physics. Although many of the society members are from scientific backgrounds many are people like me who just love to look at clouds and enjoy reflecting on the shapes, varieties and species.
I also enjoy looking a clouds if I am lucky enough to get a window seat on a plane. So I have experienced clouds from above and below, but I can also lay claim to have been possibly in one. A few years ago on a trip to Wester Ross, I climbed a high crag with my family. It was late Spring and with the weather being changeable, there was low cloud and mist hanging low over the landscape. After climbing to the top of the crag, we stopped for a rest to admire the view. Low cloud (or what I think was low-cloud) began to rise. The crag was engulfed and we also experienced something strange. The temperature had been cool but very quickly the air got very hot. Up high there had been little sound apart from the wind and birds above and around us. However, as the cloud enveloped us and the temperature rose we could hear a loud fizzing, popping sound. I have to admit I got ‘the fear’ and my heart was racing.
Looking back, the whole experience seemed to last an age but was probably only one or two minutes in total. As quickly as it started, the ‘cloud’ began to dissipate. While it encircled us, it moved upwards and everything around us soon returned to normal. Looking across the forest and loch beneath us we could see this happening in other areas too. I am not really sure what phenomenon we were experiencing but I do like to think it was a bit of cloud formation.
If you are like me and you really like looking at images of clouds with all their odd shapes, then I would recommend you to pay a visit to ‘The Cloud Appreciation Society’s’ website and Facebook page. There you can wonder at and be uplifted by the many 1000’s of images that have been recorded and downloaded by the society’s members across the globe. They also have a number of publications and resources that can help grow your knowledge and skills if the next step for you is becoming a ‘ cloudspotter’.
For ‘Look up at the sky’ Day (and every other day), do try and take a moment to look at what is above you. If for you that’s the sky – happy cloud spotting!