Cloud Appreciation Society

Cumulonimbus Clouds over Half Dome, Yosemite National Park. Image by Thomas Robinson. See Thomas’ online nature photo gallery.

Last month, I was visiting my mom in Phoenix, Arizona. It was the second weekend of January. As far as my eyes could view, I could not see a single cloud in the whole 50 by 50 mile greater Phoenix area. In January, a cloudless morning is such a strange sight to my Pacific Northwest eyes, that I felt as if something was out of place or not quite right, like going out into a day without wearing any clothes. I felt somehow naked, exposed.

A few weeks earlier, I discovered the Cloud Appreciation Society (CAS), an online group of over 14,000 people from 120 countries who all share a mutual appreciation for clouds. The Cloud Appreciation Society website is an extensive collection of clouds, captured in photography by members. See

Founder Gavin Pretor-Pinney is also author of several delightful books on clouds including The Cloud Collector’s Handbook , and A Cloud A Day.  

The Cloud Appreciation Society, founded in 2005, invites members to post images of unique clouds captured from around the world. These images of clouds are identified and catalogued into ten genera of clouds, including Cirrus, Cirrocumulus, Cirrostratus, Altocumulus, Altostratus, Nimbostratus, Stratocumulus, Stratus, Cumulus, and Cumulonimbus. Each of these cloud genera are subdivided into cloud species related to peculiar shapes of clouds and differences in the way they form. Some of these cloud species include, fibratus, uncinus, spissatus, castellanus, and flocus.

For more on cloud classification, see the World Meteorological Organization’s International Cloud Atlas.

The Cloud Appreciation Society Manifesto is a beautiful affirmation of the atmosphere and beauty in which we all live and move and have our being.


  • We believe that clouds are unjustly maligned and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.
  • We think that they (clouds) are Nature’s poetry, and the most egalitarian of her displays, since everyone can have a fantastic view of them.
  • We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it. Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day.
  • We seek to remind people that clouds are expressions of the atmosphere’s moods, and can be read like those of a person’s countenance.
  • We believe that clouds are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save money on psychoanalysis bills.
  • And so we say to all who’ll listen: Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and always remember to live life with your head in the clouds!

May you take time this week to “Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty” of clouds, and learn to live your life with your heart, mind, and soul in the cloud of unknowing, in the mystery of God’s presence!