15 Amazing Images of Cloud Shadows from Above

15 Amazing Images of Cloud Shadows from Above

Simone Preuss
Simone Preuss
Scribol Staff
Science

Cloud shadows over the MediterraneanPhoto: Etan J. TalLight and shadow over the Mediterranean

Cloud gazing is a great way to pass one’s time and there are few who haven’t stopped to look up at a particular stunning cloud formation. Seen from above, clouds not only form whitish soft blankets; they also create amazing patterns with their shadows.

A cloud blanket over the sea:
Cloud blanket over the seaPhoto: Joi Ito

Technically, a shadow is the reverse projection of an object blocking a light source, usually the sun. Depending on the time of day and the distance of the object from the light source, a shadow’s length will vary. For moving objects – like clouds – their shadows will expand proportionally faster. According to western mythology and many early eastern beliefs, shadows, like halos, were seen as the representation of God’s presence around an object.

A carpet of soft clouds over Auckland, New Zealand:
Clouds over Auckland, NZPhoto: Newsbie Pix

In countries like China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, shadow play or shadow puppetry has a long tradition. This ancient form of storytelling and entertainment made its way to Europe in the 18th century through French missionaries, who brought back the equipment and technique and put on popular shows back home. Little did they know that all they’d have to do is simply gaze at cloud shadows and weave tales out of their ever shifting shapes!

Cloud shadow play over the Mediterranean:
Cloud shadow playPhoto: Michele Molinari

The continents replicated by clouds, somewhere over the Atlantic:
Clouds over the AtlanticPhoto: Miguel303xm

Twin clouds and their shadows over Cayuga Lake, NY:
Two clouds over Cayuga Lake, NYPhoto: Kris Arnold

Sometimes, clouds and their shadows seem to put in a lot of effort to supplement existing geographical formations or to replicate their shapes.

Clouds imitating the Western Australian coastline:
Clouds and shadows in Western AustraliaPhoto: 29cm

Clouds bridging the Pacific:
Clouds bridging the PacificPhoto: Mila Zinkova

Cloud shadows competing with lakes in the Catskills:
Clouds, shadows & lakes in the CatskillsPhoto: Kris Arnold

At other times, one wonders if clouds know about the dots and dashes of Morse code and try to tell us something.

Does this spell SOS or I Love You?
Dot & dash cloudsPhoto: Jessica Spengler

Dots and dashes as far as the eye can see:
More dots & dashesPhoto: SpecialKRB

Clouds trying to spell out something over Arizona:
Clouds over ArizonaPhoto: Jessica Reeder

Morse code somewhere over Australia:
Clouds & shadows over AustraliaPhoto: Jessica Spengler

Clouds, always majestic and often threatening, do have their playful side too. Like giant pawns made of cotton they seem to use the landscape as one gigantic playing board.

Chinese checkers and cotton balls somewhere in the Midwest:
Clouds & shadows over the MidwestPhoto: Jessica Spengler

The gods’ playing board:
Clouds & shadows, MidwestPhoto: Jessica Spengler

We could do this for the rest of the day but we have yet to figure out a way to get paid for cloud gazing. Better you share your stories of amazing cloud formations with us.

Sources: 1, 2

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