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Have you ever wondered if you have seen a UFO? They are not called Unidentified Flying Objects for nothing. In many cases UFOs are normal objects or phenomena that look like something alien. Lenticular clouds are no exception these clouds at first glance look like the traditional UFO saucer. They even have an eerie glow at certain times of the day. However learning more about what a lenticular cloud really is helps to clear up some of the mystery around them. Here are some fact about what lenticular clouds are and how they are formed.
Lenticular clouds are a type of cloud normally formed and seen near high elevations such as mountains. The reason is that they are created by masses of warm moist air forced by standing waves of atmospheric pressure and winds. This unique atmospheric condition creates the interesting lens shaped form that defines lenticular clouds. If you know anything about how mountains affect weather you know that they act as natural barriers forcing clouds to condense quickly as they are forced to cooler elevations. This is why large or particularly tall mountain ranges will experience a moist climate on side and an arid one on the others side.
To go back to the issue of lenticular clouds these special conditions give lenticular clouds other traits such as irisation. This is when the edge of a cloud takes on an iridescent appearance. You may notice that some clouds when near or opposite the sun look like mother of pearl or fish scales. This is due to this interesting phenomenon. It is simply the sunlight being refracted by the edges of the clouds. This trait only fueled the myth of lenticular clouds being UFOs.
Lenticular clouds can be divided into three main types. The first is Altocumulus standing lenticularis clouds. The next is altostratus standing lenticular and the final is altocirrus standing lenticular. Each cloud forms under slightly different atmospheric conditions that affect their cloud type. In the end we see that lenticular clouds are just an ordinary part of nature and not signs alien intelligence.
We’ve also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast all about planet Earth. Listen here, Episode 51: Earth.