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Cloud Identification Help

Cloud Identification Help

Forums The Cloud Forum Cloud Identification Help

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    • #379714
      Sam Fisher avatarSam Fisher

      Hi Guys, new here and starting out on my cloud journey.  I’m having trouble judging cloud height visually.  Low clouds height is very near the ground and nearby is no problem but judging where the low/medium cross over is.  Also on a clear day when looking at clouds far away on the horizon how can distance be judged.

      anyways here some cloud photos from my garden from a few days ago.  I think they are stratocumulus  or could they be Altostratus?








      Thank you

    • #379723
      Hans Stocker avatarHans Stocker

      Welcome Sam,

      The height of clouds is sometimes difficult to judge especially when they are close to the horizon where it all seems to come together. But on your first, second, third and fifth picture it is easy: low hanging stratocumulus. The forth picture is not easy to judge, but I put my cards on cirrus, being high level clouds. The clouds close to the horizon may look like altostratus but that is a matter of perspective in my opinion.

      There are some rules of thumb. For instance cirrocumulus is all white having no shadows and the consisting grains have a width of less than a finger held at a arm’s length. Altocumulus is shaded an has the width of three fingers held at a arm’s length. And then there is a lot of practicing that makes the art. Consulting the ICA or checking the overwhelming amount of examples on the gallery will also help.

      I wish you lots of fun cloud spotting.

    • #379728
      Sam Fisher avatarSam Fisher

      Thank you Hans very helpful and much appreciated. Those photographs were all taken at the same time but in different directions.  I never thought of there being more than one type of cloud in the sky at the same time, but the sky is a big big place.  Weather fronts approaching and receding, geographical and topographical features will have their say no doubt.

      I’m pleased I had the stratocumulus right – yay!  But never considered Cirrus in the sky at the same time.


      here’s a few more I took on my walk today.  The first 3 I suspect are a form of cirrus being high, white, and feathery.  The 4th and 5th are of the same cloud but one in close up which I haven’t identified






    • #380053
      Hans Stocker avatarHans Stocker

      You ‘re welcome Sam. Mostly there are different cloud types in the sky. The last five pictures show for instance all cirrus, but the last three show also altocumulus on the horizon of which the last one is more in close-up. I wish you lots of success with further investigations in the world of clouds.

    • #380075
      Sam Fisher avatarSam Fisher

      Thank you again Hans.

      I’m getting there

    • #380177
      Patricia L Keelin avatarKeelin

      Welcome to the CAS forum, Sam. Rest assured you’re not alone in feeling unsure about what to call what’s up there sometimes, especially when it’s a mixed bag of wonder. But turning your eyes to the skies on a regular basis, and comparing what you see with reliable sources, you’ll soon come to call the clouds by their proper names. It can feel like greeting dear friends when you see your favorites up there!

    • #380188
      Sam Fisher avatarSam Fisher

      Thank you Keelin.


      yes taking my first steps – will get get more wrong than right for now as I try to compare with the available photos – but that’s ok.  And I have kind people on here (with patience) such as you and Hans to call upon 😁👍

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