Lenticular clouds over the Boulder foothills

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 21 2009 4:00 PM

Lenticular clouds over the Boulder foothills

One thing I love about Colorado is that things I used to think were rare are actually rather common here. For example, lenticular clouds are lens-shaped (hence the name) clouds that sometimes form when air flows over the mountains in a certain way. Where I grew up on the east coast they were non-existent, but here, a few miles downwind of the Rocky Mountains, I see them pretty often.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

While I was at the gym the other day I saw a nice one, and posted a pic using my phone, but the cloud is a bit small and hard to see. After my workout, I got home, climbed onto my roof and, using a better camera, got this shot:

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Sadly, by the time I got home the formation started to falter, but you can still see the elongated, oddly-sculpted shape. The knobby formation on the ridge line is called The Devil's Thumb, and is located south of Boulder on the foothills.

I took a second picture at a faster exposure time so that details weren't washed out, and that one is on the right (you can click both to embiggen).

I remember seeing lenticular clouds practically every day last fall, so I'm looking forward to seeing better ones here soon. They're very cool, and another in a long list of things you might miss if you don't simply look up every once in a while.

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