Hot Tub Soaking Now That it’s Daylight Savings Time- What to do? Cloud Watch!

March 23, 2011

Daylight savings time has changed our hot tub soaking! All of that light in the evening between 6 and 7 when we it used to be dark has made a big change in our hot tubbing.

First of all, we have to wear suits to avoid the prying eyes of the neighbors looking down on our roof top deck.

Second, we’ve been watching the stars, planets and satellites all winter. Now it’s light. What to do? We took up cloud watching.

Until there’s an iphone cloud app, we’re entranced by the work of an intrepid Englishman, Gavin Pretor-Pinney who is  founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, a global organization dedicated to clouds. We’ve been following his website and trying to learn about clouds and name them as they go by.

His new book “Cloud Collector’s Handbook” is a portable form of the society’s website.  It’s for anyone who spends time gazing at the sky, more or less idly, wondering about the names or nature of its vaporous shapes as we’ve been doing. It’s a practical guide that can be tucked away in a pocket or taken out to the hot tub (!) or read on a plane, ready for those moments when you spot a juicy cloud shape and wonder what it’s called and how it formed.

The model is clearly bird-watching, whose enthusiasts have all sorts of field guides for their hobby. Each entry in the cloud handbook includes color photographs of a particular type of cloud (all taken by members of the Cloud Appreciation Society!) and a space for sky-watchers to inscribe the proud moment and place where they spotted . . . well, what was that, exactly?

Most likely, it was one of the 10 great species of clouds, beginning with low- altitude cumulus (“cotton-wool puffs”), stratocumulus (“a low layer or patch of cloud”) and stratus (a “gray overcast layer”)  and so on. Don’t miss the photos of clouds that look like things on the website.

As with bird watching, the initial phase soon gives way to a mad desire to spot the more elusive and rare species. The “crown jewel” of cloud spotting, Mr. Pretor-Pinney reports, is a particular type of undulatus known as a Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud. It appears only fleetingly and looks like a series of Hokusai’s waves breaking across the sky, as if the Japanese master had wielded a cloud-brush on an immense blue scroll.  That’s a Kelvin-Helmholtz cloud on the left.

If you see this one while soaking in your hot tub, you get at least double points! Send us a photo of your favorite cloud shape taken from your hot tub.

SANUM PER AQUA. Latin for Health through Water.

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