Richard Hamblyn. Extraordinary Clouds: Skies of the Unexpected from the Beautiful to the Bizarre. David and Charles for the Met. Office, 2009

If you are of a certain age, like Magonia's editors, you might recall Aimé Michel and the great Cloud Cigars. Michel and others argued passionately that these could not have been natural cloud formations.

In this beautifully illustrated little book however, there are several examples of very ufological looking clouds, most particularly, but not entirely limited to, the lenticular clouds. No doubt it was clouds of this type which in past times led to beliefs about phantom ships in the air.

If natural clouds have led to tales of UFOs and phantom ships, then some of the new clouds produced by aircraft contrails have led to rumours of secret plots to seed the skies with chemical and biological agents

This is a book to remind people of just how weird the skies can become, through the artistry of both wild nature and human artifice, suggesting that art is as much in the perception as in the construction. Recommended for all sky watchers. -- John Harney

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