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What Is Cloudspotting?

Plain English

Sea reaching the horizon. A small boat. Blue sky with big fluffy cumulus clouds.

The Cumulus cloud's name refers to “low, separated cotton wool clumps”.


Have you ever looked up at the sky and been amazed at the shapes that clouds take? We all have, of course. Cloudspotting takes you back to the childhood pleasures of gazing up at the sky.

Sky with large, fluffy white clouds in the background. The sunset are giving them a pink hue. Smaller, dark grey fluffy clouds floating in the foreground.

Anyone can look up at the sky or out of their window. Cloudspotting comes with a slight difference: you are looking for interesting clouds. Clouds that appear in beautiful colors and shapes.

Panorama of the night sky. Flimsy, glowing blue clouds light up the center of the image.

Noctilucent clouds form ripples and appear at night.


Cloudspotters are people who are passionate about clouds, but don’t necessarily study them like scientists do. But you do end up learning a lot about weather, temperature, wind and rainfall by cloudspotting.

Tree tops, black against an orange and yellow sunset sky. The cloud covering glows orange and  looks like a sea of bubbles.

Mammatus clouds appear before or even after severe weather.

Looking straight up to a patch of blue sky with fluffy, white clouds seen between a gab in the trees.

You don't have to travel to photograph clouds.


Photographing clouds can be easy: they appear where you are, so you don’t have to travel some place else to catch sight of them. They don’t disappear that quickly most of the time. You don’t have to focus your camera with extreme precision.

Huge fluffy, white cumulus clouds.

The Cloud Appreciation Society

The Cloud Appreciation Society is a worldwide group of cloudspotters. They love looking up at the sky and delighting in what the clouds are up to.

Society founder Gavin Pretor-Pinney encourages the idle luxury of cloud-watching: “Clouds are Nature’s poetry and everyone can have a fantastic view of them. Life would be dull without them."

"Clouds are for dreamers and they are good for the soul.”

Indeed, one of the names the Society has for cloud gazing is “clouditation”. Yes, looking at the clouds can have an effect close to meditation.


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Blue sky with wispy white clouds. They are called cirrus clouds.

Cirrus clouds are made of ice crystals instead of water droplets.


You can share your photographs and videos of clouds on the Society’s website. You can upload photos on Instagram with #cloudspotter. The Society chooses among these photos to display on the website's photo gallery.

You can suggest music inspired by clouds to be listed on the Cloud Appreciation Society's website. Or, send them a poem you wrote on clouds.


Lenticularis clouds get their name from the Latin word for a ‘lentil’.


The Cloud Appreciation Society members discuss clouds they spotted and help each other identify the clouds.

Towering above a field is a large, dark arcus cloud.

This cloud is called an arcus cloud.


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The Cloud Appreciation Society’s members are from 120 countries. Membership costs 29.50 £ per year. Each member gets a certificate, a badge, a Cloud Selector to help identify clouds, and a daily e-mail with a photo of a cloud and information about it.

Click here for information about a becoming a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society.


Watch how to use the cloud selector.

The Cloud Selector is a pair of paper identification wheels. When you turn the wheel, it points to a cloud type with some text about it. You can learn about 20 types of clouds from the Cloud Selector.


Visit the Cloud Appreciation Society's website:

Do you like looking at photos of clouds?

Follow the Cloud Appreciation Society:

Instagram: @cloudappsoc

Twitter: @CloudAppSoc

Two books by Gavin Pretor-Pinney are available internationally:

The Cloudspotter’s Guide

The Cloud Collector’s Handbook


Photos: Melissa Simpson via Cloud Appreciation Society on Instagram , Petra Boekhoff , Patricia Alexandre , Tobias Hämmer , Jiří Rotrekl

*Quotes are edited to Easy Read*


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