Clouds are visible masses of water droplets or frozen ice crystals, suspended in the atmosphere above the Earth. On condensation, the droplets fall as rain or snow, or sometimes as hail or sleet. In addition to water, clouds also contain microbes, aerosols and sulphates. The science of clouds is called Nephology.
There are numerous types of clouds and science is full of unusual examples, such as clouds formed by exploding volcanos. Volcanic clouds contain water and volcanogenic particles and can rise to a height of 50 kilometres. Clouds are objects of wonder, as they assume various shapes in the sky. It is possible to pass time looking for shapes, resembling animals and faces in the clouds, or indeed anything that inspires imagination!
Otherwise, clouds may be admired for their natural beauty. They are a favourite subject of photography. Cirrus clouds are frequently referred to on Instagram as “scatter clouds”, thin wisps of cloud, stretching across a blue sky. Fair weather cumulus clouds are referred to as “cotton wool clouds” again floating on a blue sky. These can build up into storm clouds, cumulonimbus.
Contrails form through the injection of water vapour into the atmosphere, by exhaust fumes from a jet engine. If the surrounding air is cold enough, ice crystals develop, forming a contrail. In addition to having different shapes, clouds can spectacularly change colour, particularly at sunrise and sunset and appear mystical in moonlight.Not surprisingly references to clouds find their way into language, as metaphors.
When life is going exceptionally well, it can be said that there is not a cloud in the sky! Someone who cannot think clearly on an issue, is said to have “clouded judgement” In an album entitled “Clouds”, 1968-71, Joni Mitchell sings about clouds getting in her way and concludes that she really doesn’t know about life at all.