Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Triangular cloud falls over Tokyo?


Such a great image, captured over Tokyo and posted December 10 on the popular 2ch, futaba board.

And it’s not a hoax, nor a piece of chemical foam. It’s actually a cloud, it’s indeed a trail. Granted, it’s not actually falling. More pics and considerations after the jump!


Above, another photo from a slightly different angle, though probably from the same photographer.

The cloud appears to be falling, especially because of the trail, but that’s an illusion of perspective, as both the triangular cloud, the trail and the other clouds we see on the images are all probably around the same approximate height.

As they get farther they converge on the horizon, and especially from an angle like this, where they are seen as an almost vertical line, the effect is stronger. The same effect was demonstrated last year when an airplane contrail made an airplane look like a missile shooting into the sky, all the while the airplane and its contrail were around the same altitude.


It’s impossible not to look at an image like the one above and not think of a shooting missile, but the contrail at the bottom is in fact at the same height as the one at the top. Click on the image to review this past case.

So what the Japanese photos record is in fact a wedge shaped cloud and a trail it seems to be creating in a layer of clouds. It’s not falling, but do we have a wedge shaped cloud zipping through this layer of clouds? That would still be quite amazing. Perhaps it’s a super secret blimp, or even an Alien spaceship cloaked to look like a cloud, but like the invisible man, it can’t hide its footprints? Or “cloudprints”?

It’s an adorable idea, but there are some more prosaic explanations that must be considered first.

Soon after the original images were posted, another fellow member posted this:

20111210-3-4Another wedge shaped cloud. And what looks like a very small trail. That’s probably natural. This is not:


As Michael Holt from the Cloud Appreciation Society explains, “when a plane passes through the cloud layer at a shallow angle, it can cause a line to be cut from the cloud, [as it freezes], known as a canal cloud or a distrail (short for dissipation trail).”

So, though I’m not a cloud expert, my guess is that the Japanese photos show the trail of an airplane that may have passed there a few minutes before. Here’s another detail of the Japanese trail, or as suggested here, a distrail:


Of course, better explanations are always welcome! [via Ride the Wave (link NSFW)]

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