|My very own "glory." (All photos by The Accidental Naturalist.)|
This meant that I had the possibility of photographing that optical, cloud-related phenomenon called a "glory." I wrote about this is a previous blog where you'll find the full explanation, a diagram, and a few photos that are not my own. I felt bad about the photos, but I never thought I'd capture one of these beauties myself. Now I have. Tip: If you fly eastward in the morning, sit on the left.
I am 51 percent sure these are cumulus clouds, though higher altocumulus clouds also line themselves into neat rows like this. I tried to find a photograph of clouds similar to this one, but failed. So, how to make the call? I resort to some guess-timating based on altitude. Because I was taking these photographs, I knew we were above 10,000 feet. Why? At 10,000 feet, Southwest Airlines requires electronic devices to be turned off.
Cumulus clouds typically form between 2,000-3,000 feet and I was definitely looking down on these clouds. But were they 8,000-9,000 feet below the plane? Hmmm. The other option was the higher altocumulus clouds, which typically form between 6,500 and 23,000 feet. Hmmm. These would be pretty low altocumulus clouds. I didn't see any clouds below these--an altitude-betraying cumulus, for instance.
I was tempted to ask the stewardess to make an announcement: "Is there a meteorologist on the plane? We have an emergency."
I kept taking photographs for a full hour after this photo above--and we were still looking down on these clouds as we descended into Midway Airport. I took this photo: