Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Lumpy Contrail Shadows

We've all seen the contrails that jets leave while flying at high altitude. Sometimes those contrails have shadows. Here's a photo I shot a few years ago of a fine contrail shadow.

We don't see them often, so it's kind of interesting when they show up. So, the other day when I was looking out at the sky I saw a different kind of contrail shadow. I was intrigued so I took a photo of it.


I sent the photo to Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics and asked if contrail shadows can look like this or if I was seeing something else. He wrote that sometimes contrails are "lumpy" like this and their shadows take on this look. 

Well that was a surprise. I love learning something new. Lumpy contrail shadows. I'm laughing that I'm even writing about this, but we are living in interesting times, and this is all I've got.

32 comments:

  1. There seems to be no end to the conjuring tricks that the skies can perform, though their audience is very small - but discerning.

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    1. John-- The sky loves a discerning audience. Probably why it puts on such wonderful shows.

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  2. I really like scanning the sky for interesting phenomena. I'll add con-trail shadows to my list of things to look out for!

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    1. Carruthers-- There are so many things happening in the sky. Looking up is my most favorite addiction.

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  3. You do know there are some rampant crazy conspiracy theories about contrails don't you Robin? I wonder what the conspiracy theorists would make of 'lumpy' contrails!!

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    1. Dr Michelle-- Oh yes, I've read some of the crazy ideas about chemtrails.

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  4. That is a new one to me. It really was kind of raggedy.

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    1. Patti-- I was really taken by the very light rays coming off the top of the contrails. A surprise it was.

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  5. Good to see someone is looking up these days! With a bit of word double meaning of course. I've seen many a contrail, but that's the first lumpy one.

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    1. Barbara-- I've seen lumpy contrails before but never with the very light shadow of rays radiating off the top of it.

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  6. Interesting! I've never seen a shadow quite like that second one, but it's pretty cool.

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    1. Steve-- It was that interesting shadow of rays that intrigued me.

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  7. it took me a while to figure out that those faint vertical rays must be the shadow you were talking about.

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    1. ellen-- Yes! You make me wish I had written that in the post. It was those very faint vertical rays off the top that was the surprising shadow.

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  8. I have seen them like that before in the sky here though not so much now. Have a look in you email

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    1. Billy-- Contrails happen often, but not always with shadows and not much with these lumpy shadow rays off the top.

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  9. These days if I go outside, I am busy looking at the ground - watching for ice - so I am missing all of the treats up in the sky! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. EllenD-- Oh you remind me of the days we walked on snow and ice. Definitely requires a lot of concentration, looking down.

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  10. For much of my life, I didn't know that those lines in the sky were called contrails. Once I knew their name, I was more easily able to talk about them. Now that you have pointed out contrail shadows, I have something new to look for in our beautiful sky. Thank you!

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    1. am-- The sky is full of such delightful visual treats. I'm so drawn to run outside all the time and take a look.

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  11. I know what you mean. ("This is all I've got."

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    1. Catalyst-- It's true. Such weird times we're living in.

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  12. The second photo is really cool. It's interesting how the shadows look like the background, and the actual background looks like bright rays.

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    1. Mark-- I'm still not sure I understand the shadow in this photo. Are the rays the shadow of the lumpy contrail? I think so. But how? I have no idea.

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  13. I like that you know so much about clouds. As a result, many of your readers now look up as well as straight ahead.

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    1. Colette-- Ten years ago I looked up at the sky and saw colorful clouds. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It sent me on a journey to find out what it was... Iridescent clouds. I've been in love ever since. I'm so glad you look up too, my friend. Thank you for that.

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  14. Amazing!And to think that there are people who believe that contrails are dangerous chemicals.

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    1. Sabine-- There are so many real things to really be afraid of these days, it's a shame some people worry about crazy conspiracies.

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  15. Those are some crazy looking skies. I have them, like your first photo, often. I look up at the sky during the day, and usually see more than one in the sky. That second “lumpy” contrail is wild!

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    1. oldwhitelady-- I wish I had pointed out the very pale rays that were radiating at the top of the lumpy contrails. Those are the lumpy shadows. The sky is such a treasure of sights!

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  16. Looking up can result in all sorts of interesting or unusual phenomena, Robin, and now I know a bit more about contrails.

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    1. Beatrice-- It's been rainy cloudy here for days, so if there's a break in the weather, I always run out and look up!

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