Sunday, March 15, 2015

Now That's A Flying Saucer

Swirling through the air in mesmerising saucer-like shapes, these exceptionally rare lenticular clouds are the most common explanation for UFO sightings.

The remarkable-looking disc shapes were spotted by amateur photographer Glenn Spencer, 42, in the sky above Chester in Cheshire.

The formations, also known as wave clouds, were scattered over miles, producing a stunning spectacle. Rarely seen in the UK, lenticular clouds are formed when a tall geographic feature, such as the the top of a mountain, obstructs a strong wind.

The interruption in airflow creates a wind wave pattern in the atmosphere on one side of the mountain and at the top of these waves, moisture in the air condenses and forms a cloud. As air moves down into the trough of these waves the water evaporates again, leaving behind clouds in a characteristic lenticular shape.

Rare spectacle: These lenticular clouds, also known as altocumulus standing lenticularis, are hardly ever seen in British skies.

Stunning: They form when wind blows over high ground and then undulates down in a stream of waves creating a rippled effect as the air cools.

Commonly mistaken for UFOs: The clouds are sometimes reported as UFOs, particularly the flying saucer, because of their lens shape.

How they form: They occur when the air meets obstructions such as mountains and the clouds' thickness creates incredible contrasts of light.

Mesmerising: Amateur photographer Glenn Spencer, 42, noticed the flying saucer-shaped clouds as he was driving to the shops in Cheshire.

Pilots of powered aircraft tend to avoid flying near lenticular clouds because of the turbulence of the rotor systems that accompany them.

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