Thursday, January 29, 2015

Clouds and Sky Watching

I have to ask you, who does not like sky watching? During the daylight hours, it can take place anywhere, but at night, it is especially precious in rural areas far away from ambient light, preferably on a cloudless night when the stars shine in all their glory. In between the light and dark of day and night, sunrises and sunsets can be extraordinarily gorgeous visual experiences, which is why so much artwork features them.

I do not know about you, but for me, seeing the night sky crowded with stars and the Milky Way is awe-inspiring, somehow putting my existence into perspective. Viewing the moon has been a human compulsion since prehistoric times not only to tell time but also to induce inspiration. It continues to hold its thrall for modern man, and now we have the added knowledge that man has visited there. (Off-topic, I know, but left garbage there, too; so human.) Some hold dreams of inhabiting the moon’s harsh landscape, others of developing it as a weapons base. Even on a cloudy night, the moon can be breathtaking. Its refracted light can illumine through layers of clouds. Atmospheric conditions sometimes create halos of light around the moon, and a moon with wisps of clouds drifting by makes the perfect Halloween night. Yet, a full moon radiating the sun’s golden light in an otherwise empty sky makes me want to dance. With all the media announcements about impending meteorite shows, passing comets, eclipses, and northern lights, I know many of you share this sky-watching urge.

While all of these are wondrous sights and events, the beauty and variety of common clouds entrance me. Clouds are water molecules loosely attracted in the atmosphere by what humans have learned about chemistry and physics. Clouds indicate weather and can be friendly or threatening, but always awesome. Did you know some of those clouds, if you had the water molecules collected here on the Earth’s surface, would weigh a million or more pounds? Just because they float, does not mean they weigh nothing. They come is such a wide variety of forms, all with scientific names, but I prefer to recognize them as scattered puffballs, as long overlapping sheets of grey, white, and blue, or as wispy mare’s tails. In their astonishing shapes, I have seen dragons, sharks, warriors, eagles, and other, imaginary, phenomenon.

Sometimes I am saddened to think that after I die I will never see such sights again, which is silly because of the all too obvious realities. Anyhow, the thought does serve as a good warning to enjoy them while I can. The sky reminds us time passes, day and night, midday and midnight, and everyone only has a limited amount of time. So take a minute for one of the world’s common miracles and watch a few clouds. Do some sky watching and let the Earth, sun, and moon remind you of the miracle of our planet, and celebrate life. Plus, it's free.

1 comment:

  1. Nice to read this article.Thank you so much for sharing this article.