Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 October 18
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Mammatus Clouds Over Saskatchewan
Image Credit & Licence: Craig Lindsay, Wikipedia

Explanation: Why is this cloud so bubbly? Normally, cloud bottoms are flat. The flatness is caused by moist warm air that rises and cools and so condenses into water droplets at a specific temperature, which usually corresponds to a very specific height. As water droplets grow, an opaque cloud forms. Under some conditions, however, cloud pockets can develop that contain large droplets of water or ice that fall into clear air as they evaporate. Such pockets may occur in turbulent air near a thunderstorm. Resulting mammatus clouds can appear especially dramatic if sunlit from the side. These mammatus clouds were photographed over Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada during the summer of 2012.

Tomorrow's picture: southern cross sky

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