Christy Turner captured the photo above of a friend’s daughter – a 2020 graduate, Cheyann Clarke-Colburne – under a lowering sky near Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Christy wrote:
Incredible mammatus clouds and a rainbow help complete a graduation photo shoot. Since Cheyann didn’t get a proper occasion to wear her beautiful graduation gown, we scheduled a photo shoot at her grandparents’ farm. What we didn’t count on was nature delivering up an incredible backdrop post-storm.
Thank you, Christy, and all the best to you, Cheyann!
By the way, in case you’re not familiar with them … mammatus clouds are the pouchlike protrusions hanging from the clouds in the photo above. Most clouds are formed by rising air. But mammatus clouds form when air sinks from a higher layer into a lower layer, bringing ice crystals with it.
Mammatus clouds are typically a short-lived phenomenon. They often last only 10 or 15 minutes, don’t necessarily foretell a storm, and they don’t drop downward to form tornadoes. But they look awesome!
Bottom line: Coolest graduation photo ever! Mammatus clouds – and a rainbow – provide the backdrop.
Claudia Crowley proofs and helps edit all EarthSky website material. She says working for EarthSky is the most exciting job she's had except one other - which was editing space shuttle documentation at NASA JSC. After writing and editing manuals for Dell and other major companies, she moved to the technical support side during the wild early days of the Internet, and served as general manager at a small wireless ISP. Claudia is a space enthusiast and fan of science.